x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Activists in Kuwait on collision course with government over protest site

Opposition-backed youths insist on holding the rally at a square in the heart of Kuwait City, while the authorities are offering a seaside square opposite the parliament building, saying the location can be easily protected.

KUWAIT CITY // Kuwait's interior minister, Sheikh Ahmad al Humoud al Sabah, has issued a stern warning to youth activists planning a "Day of Rage" protest calling for the removal of the prime minister.

The controversy between authorities and the activists is over the site of the planned protest on Friday, as the opposition-backed youths insist on holding the rally at a square in the heart of the capital.

Authorities are offering a seaside square opposite the parliament building, saying the location can be easily protected.

"Security authorities will not allow any demonstrations or processions outside this square [opposite parliament]," Sheikh Ahmad warned in an interview with the official KUNA news agency yesterday.

The minister, however, said the government believes in the right of assembly for citizens and their right to freedom of expression.

Last Friday, several hundred activists staged a rally in the heart of Kuwait City and then moved to a site just outside the government seat to demand the removal of the prime minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al Ahmad al Sabah.

Activists are protesting against the prime minister for refusing to face questioning in parliament for allegedly squandering public funds and committing financial and administrative irregularities.

Pro-government MPs backed by cabinet ministers voted on May 17 to refer the questions filed by opposition MPs to the constitutional court on suspicion of breaching the constitution.

Sheikh Nasser, 71, a nephew of the emir, has been targeted by the opposition since he was appointed prime minister in February 2006.

During this period, he resigned six times and formed his seventh cabinet just two weeks ago. Parliament was also dissolved three times and development plans have been stalled.