- Kuwait Times Extra
KUWAIT: Thousands of Kuwaitis stormed the National Assembly yesterday after police and elite forces beat up protesters marching on the prime minister’s home to demand he resign, an opposition MP said. “Now, we have entered the house of the people,” said Musallam Al-Barrak, who led the protest along with several other lawmakers and youth activists also calling for the dissolution of parliament over alleged corruption. The demonstrators broke open the Assembly’s gates and entered the main chamber, where they sang the national anthem and then left after a few minutes.
The police had used batons to prevent protesters from marching to the residence of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. Witnesses said at least ten demonstrators were injured and treated on the site. Some activists said they will continue to camp outside the Assembly until the premier is sacked. Chanting “the people want to remove the prime minister,” the protesters started to march to the nearby premier’s residence when police blocked their way.
This was the first political violence in the state since December, when elite forces beat up protesters and MPs at a public rally, though activists have been holding protests since March. Tension has been building in Kuwait over the past three months after it was alleged that about 16 MPs in the 50-member parliament received about KD 100 million in bribes. The opposition has been leading a campaign to oust the premier, whom they accuse of failing to run the wealthy nation and fight corruption, which has be come wide-spread.
Earlier yesterday, members of the Opposition Bloc boycotted the Assembly session in what appears to be a new policy for the 20-MP bloc. The opposition on Tuesday attended parts of the session until the government and its supporters decided to start voting on the scrapping of a grilling against the prime minister, which the opposition said was a breach of the constitution.
Nevertheless, Speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi opened the session in the presence of a small number of ministers and MPs who began the debate on the Amiri Address which was delivered by the prime minister on the opening day of the Assembly’s new term on Oct 25. Despite the absence of opposition MPs, the session did not lack some fireworks when MP Saadoun Hammad began exposing what he claimed property held by veteran opposition MP Ahmad Al-Saadoun in Qatar.
Hammad however failed to show the documents and he later claimed that he did not reveal them out of respect for Al-Khorafi and that he distributed them to other MPs. Hammad did not fulfill his promise to expose what he claimed illegal financial transactions by Islamist MP Waleed Al-Tabtabaei. Al-Tabtabaei later described Hammad a “liar” and said he will sue him for a smear campaign against him. Liberal MP Saleh Al-Mulla strongly protested when Hammad began to speak and the two had some harsh exchanges. Al-
Mulla’s colleague in the National Action Bloc took part in the exchanges and then both of them walked out of the session.
In another duel, MP Salwa Al-Jassar strongly criticized Education Minister Ahmad Al-Mulaifi for decisions he had taken and warned that she would grill him. Al-Mulaifi responded strongly by asking Al-Jassar to grill him if she wants and to stop threatening him and issuing daily statements to the press, and insisted that “he is not the minister who is worried about the chair”.
In another development, MP Rola Dashti challenged MPs of the National Action Bloc for a TV debate over their differences over the failed proposal to examine bank accounts of MPs. The proposal was made by the National Action Bloc on Tuesday but failed to win the necessary support and Dashti strongly criticized it as misleading and will not achieve any purpose. The proposal called for appointing two MPs to examine the suspicious bank accounts through the Central Bank in order to establish whether MPs had in
fact accepted millions of dinars in bribes.
MP Aseel Al-Awadhi clashed with Dashti during the debate of the proposal and then challenged her to reveal her bank accounts to the public. Dashti responded by explaining that the proposal would not have served the purpose of exposing those MPs who received bribes and the best way to do this is by asking all MPs to give a power of attorney to two MPs to be nominated by the Assembly allowing them to examine all their bank accounts.
Writing on her Twitter account, Awadhi declined Dashti’s challenge but reiterated that Dashti opposed the proposal which would have exposed corrupt MPs. There was no need to have a debate on a clear issue, she said. Meanwhile, a youth group calling itself the Constitutional Justice called yesterday for supporting the Kuwaiti constitution and for dissolving the Assembly, holding fresh elections and dismissing the government.
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