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Kuwait vows to confront 'all types of rioting'

July 5, 2014 at 12:43 pm

The Kuwaiti government vowed to confront all types of riots after police dispersed public protests on Thursday. Protesters allegedly threw stones, burned tyres and blocked roads, Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reported.

According to the local media, dozens of Kuwaiti citizens took part in the protest to call for the release of prominent opposition politician Musallam Al-Barrak, who has been serving a 5-year prison sentence since April 2013; he was charged with insulting the Emir. The ex-opposition MP is scheduled to attend a court hearing on Monday.

The interior ministry, said KUNA, accused “a group of rioters” of staging “an illegal march” on Thursday, “in violation of the law which prohibits these types of marches.”

In a statement, a ministry spokesperson said that security personnel tried to “convince” the crowd to end their “irresponsible and illegal” acts. “Despite this, they continued their gatherings and deliberately blocked main roads and attacked security men by throwing stones at them.” The spokesperson added that the ministry will “confront all types of riots, violence and incitement firmly.” Thirteen people were arrested for being involved in “violence and sabotage”.

The Al-An news website published photos of wounded protesters and reported that police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Kuwait has a relatively large margin of political and civil freedom compared to other Gulf countries. It has an elected parliament but bans any assembly of more than 20 people without a permit.

Since 2012, the Gulf State has witnessed civil unrest due to amendments to the elections law proposed by the Emir, Shaikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. Musallam Al-Barrak and opposition groups regarded this as an attempt to prevent them from obtaining a majority of seats in the parliament; they boycotted the elections in protest.