HH the Amir presided over the Cabinet meeting
‘OUR ASSEMBLY’ … OPPOSITION VOWS MORE PROTESTS No leniency … Amir orders crackdown - Finger prints lifted

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 17: HH the Amir on Thursday ordered authorities to take all necessary measures to maintain security after angry protesters stormed parliament, but the opposition remained defiant.
Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued the order in a statement by the cabinet which held an emergency meeting a day after opposition-led protesters broke into the Assembly calling for the premier’s ouster over graft allegations.

The Amir “ordered the Interior Ministry and the National Guards to take all measures and preparations necessary to confront whatever undermines the security of the country and public order,” the statement said.

Forces were ordered to be “provided with all authority necessary to ensure security and the application of the law... to put an end to such shameful provocative acts,” it added without specifying what measures would be taken.

The Amir also condemned the storming of the parliament as “chaos which endangers the security” of the country.

Kuwaiti opposition MPs meanwhile remained defiant and after a meeting warned against “any attempt to establish a police state or undermine the democratic system.”
In the meeting, which was attended by 20 representatives from the 50-member parliament, MP’s said security forces triggered Wednesday’s events by beating up protesters who stormed the assembly only once provoked.

The lawmakers insisted they will continue to support youth activists in future actions against the “corrupt government” and pledged to perform their duties “regardless of the price.”

Late on Wednesday, thousands of demonstrators outside parliament clashed with police who beat them with batons, injuring five people, the opposition and witnesses said.

They broke open the parliament’s gates and dozens of protesters invaded the main chamber, where
they sang the national anthem in a country so far spared the “Arab Spring” pro-reform revolts.
The government said five security personnel and a member of the national guard were also hurt in the clashes.

The cabinet called on the interior minister to take legal action against those who took part in the storming of parliament, including MPs, its statement said.
Kuwait’s opposition and youth activists have been holding protests for the past few months to press for the removal of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a key member of the ruling family.
Pro-government MPs strongly condemned the opposition, with Shiite MP Faisal al-Duwaisan describing it as a “challenge to the status of the emir.... and a step toward a coup.”
Before the cabinet statement, MP Mussallam al-Barrak had told reporters the opposition was waiting for the resignation of the cabinet and the dissolution of parliament, and threatened more protests.
It was the first political violence in the country since December, when elite forces beat up protesters and MPs at a public rally.
Tension has been rising in Kuwait in the past three months after it was alleged some 16 MPs received about $350 million (259 million euros) in bribes, apparently for their parliamentary votes.
The public prosecutor has opened an unprecedented investigation into the case after several local banks referred accounts held by MPs on suspicions of receiving huge illegal deposits.
Some opposition MPs have linked the government to the alleged bribes and accused the 71-year-old premier, nephew of the Amir, of transferring public funds into his personal accounts overseas. The charges were denied.
The premier has been a target of opposition criticism since he was appointed to the job in February 2006, forcing him to resign six times, and dissolving parliament and holding fresh elections on three occasions.
Witnesses said the storming of parliament was the most serious protest to affect the country in recent months.
Footage showed protesters, including some opposition lawmakers, pushing security aside as they forced open the doors of the Assembly. White head dresses worn by Gulf men were strewn on the floor outside the gates of the Assembly.
“The people want to bring down the head (of government),” the crowds chanted, recalling the cries of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators early this year demanding Hosni Mubarak’s ouster.
Wednesday’s protest came the day after the government and parliament, in an unprecedented move, voted against a request by some lawmakers to question Sheikh Nasser in the Assembly.
“We are now waiting for the dissolution of government and the parliament. Until this happens, Wednesday was only the first step among many. We don’t fear anything except God,” said Al-Barrak.
“This is our Assembly and the people’s Assembly, not the Assembly of those who use it to protect their interests. When the Constitution is violated, the people will take revenge.”
After Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Government Spokesperson Ali Fahad Al-Rashid said, in a press statement, that the meeting discussed a detailed report presented by the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Homoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on the disturbance that was done by protestors, with the participation of some of the MPs, on Wednesday where they broke open the gates of the parliament building and vandalized its property.
“His Highness the Amir expressed his deepest regrets and concerns over these unacceptable actions, especially after His Highness dilevered his speech that opened the parliament’s current session where he stressed the importance of acting wisely and learning from others’ experiences to serve the best interest of this country,” Al-Rashid said.
“His Highness also drew attention to the importance of committing to national security interests and to be fully aware of the risks and challenges that might threaten this country,” he added. Al-Rashid went on saying that “His Highness the Amir emphasized that adopting such disorderly behavior that ended in storming into the parliament building and violating its sanctity is irresponsible.”
“The actions witnessed yesterday are unfamiliar to the Kuwaiti society and threaten the security and stability of the country’s general system. Therefore, national responsibility calls for stricter measures to confront this chaotic behavior.”
“Democracy in this country should not be contaminated or misused to serve questionable agendas. Kuwait will not be a place for pre-planned sabotage,” he further said in the statement.
“He added that the Amir had ordered that no tolerance be shown for any violations of state institutions.
Pro-government MPs on the other hand condemned Wednesday night’s incident, calling the protestors thugs and described their actions as  “shameful, disrespectful and a challenge to the Amiri leadership”.
Thursday’s regular parliamentary session was cancelled due to damages caused by the demonstrators and opposition MPs; however forensic experts from the Criminal Investigations Department lifted fingerprints from Abdullah Al-Salem Hall. This was announced by the Secretary-General of the National Assembly, Allam Al-Kandari, who confirmed the hall was damaged and its contents were scattered following the break-in by protestors on Wednesday.
A parliamentary source added that the intruders broke chairs on the leadership platform and damaged equipment. The demonstrators were also said to have gained access to MPs’ offices and tried to break-down the doors.
All sessions are suspended until investigations are complete and legal action is taken against the offenders. National Assembly Supervisor, MP Ali Al-Omair added that the Office of the Parliament held an emergency meeting on Thursday to review the incident and decided to submit a letter to the Interior Minister demanding him to take legal action against those involved in the parliament break-in and damage.
Al-Omair explained that a legal consultant affirmed that the MPs in this case are “no different from any citizen and all will be punished if found guilty”.
Explaining Wednesday night’s incident with a scratchy throat Al-Barrak insisted that Abdullah Al-Salem Hall was not tampered with, “and whoever says that is delusional.” He said (the Arab Spring) people do not know the ‘impossible’ in front of corrupt governments and parliaments. “It is natural that there is anger among the wise and free people when Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah, Jassem Al-Khorafi, and bribed MPs canceled articles of the Constitution and the right of the parliament to monitor. What happened on Tuesday was the true crime.” he added.
Al-Barrak stated that it was a “legitimate break in” by protestors and that the MPs are the ones who broke in and opened the doors not the citizens. “I am the one, along with my colleagues, who have stormed the parliament. This is our assembly and the people’s assembly, not the assembly of those who use it to protect their interests. When the Constitution is violated, the people will avenge,” he continued.
Al-Barrak affirmed the opposition MPs’ and people’s loyalty to and respect for His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, but urged HH to take heed of the violations committed by Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed and elite forces.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) denied police officers and elite special forces instigated the clash but found themselves in a situation where they had to defend themselves from attacking protestors. MoI Assistant Undersecretary Colonel Mahmoud Al-Dousari said security forces advised the protestor to abide by regulations, however the advice was not accepted and they verbally and physically assaulted the officers. The clash led to the injury of five police and a Kuwait National Guard officer, said the Interior Ministry.
Demonstrators, along with MP Al-Barrak, left Al-Erada during the rally and marched towards Sheikh Nasser’s residence, chanting slogans and calling for his resignation. However, when the security forces stopped them, a violent clash ensued between both parties with protesters hurling stones at the officers who, in turn, beat a number of demonstrators. Injuries resulted to both sides.
Meanwhile on Twitter, MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei called Wednesday’s protestors “heroes” and claimed they did not destroy Abdullah Al-Salem Hall but that pictures merely show a broken glass that fell and was removed by the youth.  In a statement to the press, Al-Tabtabaei said people’s anger was caused by Tuesday’s violation of the Constitution when the government and pro-government MPs attempted to cancel two articles pertaining to the parliament’s right to monitor and question.
“The prime minister took KD 19 billion of budget and he doesn’t want anyone to question him? Is it acceptable that peaceful gatherers are beaten with batons and sticks? The issue is not about the destruction of buildings but about the disrespect of people’s minds and understanding. The government is to blame for destroying the country and the parliament with corruption,” he stated.
Al-Tabtabaei further added the people lost patience and Wednesday is merely “a simple expression of their desperation”. “What is needed now is a firm stance towards the government and the parliament which have lost their legitimacy when they worked against the Constitution,” he said.
MP Mubarak Al-Walaan further justified the actions of protestors and described it a “natural reaction to in light of rampant corruption.” He said, according to the National Assembly guard, the brave and peaceful protestors entered the parliament with all respect and manners and no destruction has occurred.
“Abdullah Al-Salem Hall belongs to the people and it is not right that they get kicked out. HH the Amir is the people’s father and we welcome his decisions that abide by the Constitution. Our demand it the dissolution of the government and the parliament,” he concluded.
MP Abdulrahman Al-Anjari further added the parliament break-in is justifiable and cited an incident in 1890 when British citizens stormed their parliament “to clean it from the filth of bribe-taker MPs who were the majority at that time”. He urged the media not to blow the incident out of proportion and ignore what caused the break-in.
Meanwhile, opposition Islamist MP Mohammed Hayef objected to the parliament break-in and said he does not condone the action against any public institution. Hayef, however, tried to explain the lawmaker’s actions, adding that they “perhaps were trying to protect the parliament”.
On the government side, MP Salwa Al-Jassar said the break in was a “terrorist act and the suicide of democracy”.  She revealed plans to submit a proposal to drop the membership of the lawmakers who participated in the break-in as per internal regulations. She urged the Ministry of Interior to remain firm and strong.
MP Saleh Ashour further described the break-in as “total anarchy and a clear infringement of the constitutional institutions and the National Assembly “. The government must refer the violators to the prosecution on charges of defamation, creating anarchy in the country and violating the constitution, he added.
The National Action Bloc (NAB) issued a statement expressing its deep concern and displeasure over the incident of storming the parliament building.
“We blame the lawmakers who were supposed to set a good example and use wisdom in such protest activities, but unfortunately they incited the breaking of the law and the Constitution instead of defending it,” the statement said.
“The Bloc is aware that the country is going through difficult times in the wake of the government’s hijack of political decisions and its violation of the Constitution in the Parliament, however, the storming incident carried out by the demonstrations and led by MPs is not less dangerous than what the government did. It is a shameful and recklessness act that is unacceptable,” it added.
Moreover, the Youth Association of Kuwait called the opposition’s actions unjustifiable and that the break-in was incompatible with peaceful political movements. In a statement, the association urged the opposition bloc to rid itself from corrupt figures as a number of its members are involved in cases of corruption.
However, the association added that the time is appropriate for early parliamentary elections and a new government and prime minister. The youth also refuses the current development plan that only seeks serves personal interests.
“We remain committed to our promise to work in the interest of the citizens and efficiently carry out our responsibilities as representatives of the people. We will not be deterred by the intimidating tactics used by the corrupt government, which blatantly violated the Constitution on ‘Black Tuesday’ when it pushed for the removal of a grilling request against HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah from the agenda of the Parliament,” said the Opposition Bloc, after another meeting late Thursday.
In a press statement issued after its meeting at the office of MP Mohammad Al-Mutair Thursday, the bloc lauded the Kuwaiti youths, who gathered Wednesday night at the Erada Square to defend the Constitution, reaffirming its support for the youth-led rallies to topple the corrupt government.
Commenting on the incident, particularly the occupation of the National Assembly when the rally turned violent, the bloc explained they had no intention to storm the Assembly; it only happened when the security forces started beating the demonstrators, so they had no choice but to enter the Parliament to avoid further clashes with the officers.
The bloc went on to say, “As the country passes through one of the most difficult phase in its history, we want to express our deep appreciation, respect and gratitude to the Kuwaiti people, especially the youth, men and women, who gathered at Erada Square Wednesday to defend the Constitution. We commend them for the sacrifice they made to preserve the constitutional and democratic rule. We will continue supporting the young activists as they confront the corrupt government, which has lost the trust of the people and their representative (MPs). “
Asserting the violent clashes at the Erada Square would not have happened if the security officers had not attacked the peaceful protesters, the bloc accused the government of instructing the security forces to beat and provoke the citizens by depriving them of their legal right to gather and express their opinion. Matters would have been worse if the demonstrators did not enter the Parliament, the statement added.
The bloc has also outrightly rejected any attempt by the government, its allies in the Parliament and the media to focus on the demonstrators’ entry into the legislative building, while ignoring the factors that led to this incident, such as the malpractices of the security forces and violation of the Constitution. “We are determined to put an end to the political chaos instigated by the corrupt government. We also warn against any attempt to establish a police state or to tamper with the democratic rule, in addition to beating citizens and restraining their freedom. The people of Kuwait will not allow anyone to violate their constitutional rights and freedoms,” the bloc asserted.

By: Nihal Sharaf and Abubakar A. Ibrahim

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