HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received at Seif Palace HH Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
No more than ‘20’ at public gathering Nod to election committee

KUWAIT CITY, Oct. 22: The opposition Majority Bloc and affiliated groups called on the Kuwaiti people to participate in a gathering in Al-Erada Square on Thursday, the Day of Arafat, to “break the fast in rejection of suppression and in solidarity with (political) detainees”.

The Director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights Mohammad Al-Humaidi announced on Twitter that the Interior Minister has ordered the release of all citizens detained during Sunday’s opposition protest.
Opposition forces met on Monday at the Diwan of former MP Musallam Al-Barrak, following a mass processions in objection to a decision to change the electoral law, and issued a statement condemning the methods used by security forces to disperse demonstrators. They said that the forces “dealt crudely with the peaceful march by exercising excessive force that led to many injuries and selectively arresting activists”.

Meanwhile, the Kuwait Cabinet in light of legal considerations reminds citizens that it is not allowed to hold a gathering of more than 20 individuals on roads or public locations without taking a permit from the concerned governor.

The opposition deemed Sunday’s protest a “historic success” and thanked the participants. It assured it will continue to stand against “suppressive approach and autocracy” and will support and continue all forms of popular movements. Events “will be announced at a later time” the opposition said, presumably after Eid Al-Adha holidays.

“The demands of the Kuwaiti people are not confined to the cancelation of the notorious decree-law, but rather their demands include the realization of political reform so that Kuwait can become parliamentary democratic state,” the statement added.

The opposition further assured that “the popular movement was not directed against the Al-Sabah family at any stage but was directed against the actions of the current authority”.

“Despite the clarity of this fact, parties supporting repressive autocracy are distorting the political dispute. We were dismayed about what was discussed at the meeting with Al-Sabah family, held when the Kuwait people were facing repression, when allegations were raised that the people’s movement was directed against Al-Sabah family,” they said.

The opposition said that the “clan-style attitude and slogans will cause the family to be isolated from the people.” It called on “the Al-Sabah family to have wisdom and foresight and, with the people, address autocracy.” The opposition called for the release of detainees and the independence of the judiciary system.

The statement further accused that “foreign elements were used in the Special Forces by the current authority.” “In this context, the decree on the protection of national unity will not scare us. This decree-law is intended to be a tool in the hands of the authority to imprison whoever it likes and it’s an invalid decree and unconstitutional,” added the opposition. They further added the Interior Ministry’s latest statement on the popular march is “misleading... and modeled on statements issued by repressive regimes of dictatorship.”

According to the Medical Emergencies Department, field clinics were distributed in the areas of protests and medical staff treated 67 cases of injury of citizens and officers, 21 cases of which were referred to hospitals for various treatments.

Agencies add:
The Cabinet at its regular meeting held on Tuesday examined a series of crucial issues, reviewing final text of a bill stipulating formation of a higher committee for elections to organize upcoming parliamentary polls.

The ministers tackled the issue of national security, affirming that security and police forces are entitled by law to be present at licensed or unlicensed public demonstrations and enjoy right to disperse protestors when their action threatens public order.

Minister of Information and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said in a statement after the regular session, held at Al-Seif Palace, the ministers followed up on executive measures for implementing the historic address by His Highness the Amir. They reviewed the final formula of a bill for forming the national electoral commission, to be tasked with supervising the electoral process and regulating campaigns.

The commission will comprise nine senior judges, to be nominated by the Higher Judicial Council. It will serve along with an independent secretariat-general.

According to the minister’s statement, the commission will be formed for ensuring integrity, transparency, independence, and utmost impartiality of the elections. Moreover, its formation is designed to boost confidence in the electoral process in manner that would reflect “actual will of the voters.” The relevant bill includes provisions that address shortcomings that have marked previous polls, in terms of nomination, dates of tallies, outcome declaration, as well as ensuring that representatives of the candidates will be able to have access to all necessary papers when the tally begins. Copies of the vote count must be revealed to all attendees at the electoral centers for “sake of greater transparency” in this respect.

Elaborating in his statement after the session, chaired by HH Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah said this decree stipulates that representatives of the electoral contenders will be able to examine results of gathered tallies and that the general results of the polls will be publicized at all constituencies. The ministers adopted this bill and referred it to HH the Amir.

At the security level, First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Homoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah briefed the ministers about precautions that were taken to deal with the recent demonstrations and marches, namely “manifestations of breaching the laws last night, despite clarifications declared by the Ministry of Interior regarding such illegal practices.” The MoI personnel, who carried out the measures, practiced self-restraint, acted in a wise manner to deal with the incidents, according to the rules of preserving security, order and safety of the citizens, the minister explained during the session.
The ministry will spare no effort to implement guidelines of HH the Amir on the basis of the theme that “no one is above the law, that the law is applicable on everybody, that it shall be enforced with firmness and that respect of the law and the constitution is a duty of all citizens.” The ministers praised efforts of the security forces namely in averting frictions with the citizens, but regretted that a small number of persons showed eagerness on triggering confrontations with the security forces, neglecting consequences of such conducts on the public security and safety of the citizens.

The minister of information stated that the Cabinet affirmed keenness on maintaining freedom of expression and respect for the National Constitution that stipulates that citizens enjoy the right to hold meetings without an advance permit, however such public gatherings must be held in line with relevant laws.

Moreover, the Cabinet affirmed respect for the ruling of the Constitutional Court regarding the case No. 2055/1 regarding the unconstitutionality of the terms of public gathering, as outlined in the bill No. 65 of the year 1979. Therefore, the provisions 12 and 13 concerning motorcades, protests and gatherings remain valid, must be respected and abided by. Furthermore, article 34 of the law No. 31 of the year 1970 as to the amendment of the penal code No. 16 of 1960 prohibits gathering at a public place, for such an action threatens security.

In light of all these legal considerations and terms, citizens are not allowed to hold a gathering of more than 20 individuals on roads or at public locations, without obtaining a permit from the concerned governor. And, police are entitled to prevent or disperse any unlicensed grouping. They are empowered to be present at the allowed gathering, but they can disperse the crowd if it threatens public security or order, or if a crime and an incident have taken place in a manner contrary to public manners.

The Cabinet called on the citizens to respect the law, preserve the homeland, public order, be keen on expressing views in a peaceful and civic manner, and resort to the language of dialogue, for sake of maintaining the security and stability of the homeland.

Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah ordered Monday the release of all people who were arrested during the demonstrations that took place yesterday.

Sheikh Ahmad ordered the release of the arrestees and said it was up to the prosecution to complete legal procedures against those who violated the law, the ministry of interior said in a brief statement.
Kuwait’s opposition on Monday condemned what it said was the state’s use of excessive force against demonstrators and called for the release of those detained in Sunday’s mass protest against a move to change the electoral law.

Police in Kuwait used teargas, stun grenades and baton charges on Sunday to disperse tens of thousands of demonstrators protesting against changes to the voting mechanism, which the opposition has called a constitutional coup by the government.

A medical source said at least 29 people had been admitted to hospital, and at least 15 people, including two former members of parliament and a reporter, were detained. An opposition activist estimated that up to 50,000 people had gathered in different locations.

“The authorities revealed yesterday the ugly, authoritarian face of autocracy in its crass way of dealing with the peaceful popular march,” Kuwait’s opposition factions, including the country’s Salafist Movement, said in a joint statement.

In a statement issued by the cabinet on Monday, Kuwait’s Minister of Interior said the protest, which had been declared illegal, had been handled with “wisdom, self-control and tolerance.”

A reference in the statement to the government’s use of “foreign elements” in its special forces was vehemently denied by officials.

“I condemn the use of such allegations by the opposition. Why would the interior ministry use foreign elements if it has its own sons to help keep the peace,” a source in the ministry told Reuters.

Kuwait will see more protests and clashes in the wake of an unprecedented demonstration that ended in violence, analysts said on Monday, adding however that regime change is not on the opposition’s agenda.

More than 100 protesters and 11 policemen were hurt on Sunday night after a massive anti-government demonstration protesting a controversial amendment to Kuwait’s electoral law turned violent.

“Unfortunately, we are heading towards the unknown ... I expect more protests, more demonstrations and more confrontations,” political analyst Ayed al-Manna said.

“The regime may declare martial law, leading to an open and bitter confrontation between it and the people,” the political science professor told AFP.

Former MP Abdullah al-Barghash told AFP that the opposition will continue its protest campaign until the controversial amendment is withdrawn.

“I think we have entered a new phase in which youths are playing a pivotal role,” said independent political analyst Dahem al-Qahtani.

“If no peaceful solution is reached, we could be moving into a scenario similar to (neighbouring) Bahrain,” Qahtani told AFP, in reference to sporadic but persistent street protests against the ruling family.

“After reaching this stage, it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the popular movement to back down ... The solution is in real democratic reforms,” he said.

The Criminal Court will deliberate Tuesday on the case of former MPs Falah Al-Sawagh, Bader Al-Dahoum and Khalid Al-Tahous who have been accused of criticizing HH the Amir in a seminar at the diwaniya of former MP Salem Al-Namlan.

The accused have submitted a petition against the Public Prosecution’s decision to detain them for 10 days to complete investigations. They claimed the detention order is unjustified, especially since they are allowed to post bail.

In another development, the Public Prosecution on Monday released former MP Osama Al-Munawer on KD 1,000 bail after questioning him. He has been charged with criticizing the Amir in an opposition rally at the diwaniya of former MP Mohammed Al-Khalifa.

Other former MPs including Musallam Al-Barrak, Mubarak Al-Waalan, Mohammed Al-Khalifa, Salem Al-Namlan and Abdullah Al-Barghash are facing a similar charge and the prosecution have summoned them for questioning.

Moreover, the Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the verdict of a lower court which had instructed former MP Mohammed Al-Juwaihel to pay KD 20,000 compensation to Al-Barrak.

Al-Barrak had accused Al-Juwaihel of abusing him and tarnishing his reputation in press statements and during his interview with Al-Sour TV.

By: Nihal Sharaf and Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff and Agencies

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