Kuwaitis seek to defuse tension ahead of rally


Officials highlight need to comply with law for nation’s sake
  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

Manama: Kuwait on Sunday was racing against time to defuse a delicately tense situation that could be crucial in determining the country’s future.
“There are mediators seeking a solution to the political crisis,” local Arabic daily Al Jareeda reported. “They are working on reaching a solution between all parties as well as the political leadership and a meeting is planned for today. Several prominent figures have met the prime minister to discuss the matter,” the paper said.
A possible agreement would help the country ahead of possible drama and amid growing tension about the merit of a new demonstration.
The government has warned that it would pursue a zero-tolerance policy towards any violation of the law while the opposition said that it would go ahead with its second rally to press for the cancellation of the amendment of the 2006 controversial electoral law.
The information ministry said that no licence has been requested to stage a demonstration on Sunday evening.
‘The ministry has not issued a permit or received an application to organise a demonstration or a rally,” it said in a statement. “The security agencies have a crucial role in applying the law to ensure the safety of Kuwaitis and expatriates and to protect public and private property.”
All Kuwaitis should be fully aware of the significance of being fully committed towards the application of the law and the requirement to obtain a legal permit to stage a demonstration and not just to inform about it, the ministry said.
During a visit to a policeman recovering from injuries at a local hospital, Crown Prince Shaikh Nawaf Al Ahmad, paid tribute to the country’s security men for protecting Kuwait while Prime Minister Jaber Al Mubarak said that the government was not keen on violence when dealing with demonstrations.
“However, we will resort to it if need be because Kuwait is dearer than everything and everybody else,” he said in remarks published by local Arabic Al Sabah.
The opposition said that it would be relentless in its call for the cancellation of the amendment that slashed the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one. The government said that the amendment meant to fall in line with the international standard of “one voter, one vote” and to ensure a fair representation of the nation in the 50-member parliament.
However, the opposition said that it aimed to reduce its influence and to help ensure the election of a rubber-stamp parliament. It said that it would apply street pressure tactics to make sure the amendment is not applied in the parliamentary elections on December 1. It also launched massive campaigns to call for the boycott of the legislative polls.
Calls for the boycott have not been heeded even though the rate of candidates’ registration has been lower than in the previous elections.
Officials said that 17 people signed up their names on the fourth day of the ten-day registration process, taking up the total number to 55. However, four candidates have withdrawn their applications.
Local media have often taken clear sides in their coverage of the situation. While some supported the amendment of the electoral law and holding the elections, others have clearly sided with the opposition and highlighted the significance of boycotting the national polls.
Kuwait’s media have been among the freest in the Arab world.