Gulf | Kuwait

Opposition chief arrested over emir remarks

Barrak warned the emir against changing the electoral law on October 15

  • AFP
  • Published: 12:31 October 30, 2012
  • Gulf News

Kuwait City: Kuwait secret service officers on Monday arrested prominent opposition leader and former MP Mussallam Al Barrak for publicly criticising the Gulf state ruler, a rights official said.

“Members of the secret service arrested Al Barrak after they came to his residence and produced an official warrant issued by the public attorney,” director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights Mohammad Al Humaidi told AFP.

Al Humaidi, a lawyer, said Al Barrak was arrested on accusations that he made public remarks deemed offensive to Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who cannot be criticised under the constitution.

Al Barrak, considered to the main figure leading the opposition in Kuwait, made the remarks at a public rally on October 15 when he broke decades-old taboos by warning the emir against changing the electoral law.

Last week, police arrested three former opposition MPs on similar charges and were later released on bail pending trial. A fourth former MP gave himself up and was released on bail after questioning.

Ahead of the arrest, hundreds of supporters gathered at Al Barrak’s residence in Andalus, around 20 kilometres south-west of Kuwait City in a show of support for the outspoken politician.

Kuwait’s opposition has been staging protests against a decision by the emir to amend the electoral law after the constitutional court last month confirmed the legislation was in line with the constitution.

The opposition claims that the change is not legal and is aimed at electing a rubber stamp parliament when voters go to polls on December 1.

More than 100 protesters were wounded at the hands of riot police during a massive rally on October 21 described as the largest in Kuwait history.

The opposition plans to stage another protest on November 4 amid stern warnings by the authorities that demonstrations will not be allowed.

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