x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Kuwait arrests former MP over comments about emir

Local media reported that Mussallam Al Barrack, who attracted the most votes in elections in February, was arrested at his home on Monday night after hosting an opposition diwaniya.

Authorities in Kuwait have arrested a prominent opposition figure and former member of parliament for making comments they said undermined the status of the country's emir.

Local media reported that Mussallam Al Barrack, who attracted the most votes in elections in February, was arrested at his home on Monday night after hosting an opposition diwaniya.

The charges reportedly relate to a speech that Mr Barrack gave to a political rally on October 15 in Erada Square, a public park near the parliament where protests are permitted.

In his speech, Mr Barrack broke Kuwaiti tradition by addressing the emir directly with a warning against changing the country's constitution. Criticising the emir is illegal.

Islamist and tribal opposition groups, including Mr Barrack's Popular Action Bloc, have been demonstrating against amendments to Kuwait's electoral system that would reduce the current number of candidates a voter can endorse.

The amended rules are expected to be in effect when parliamentary elections are held on December 1. This month, the emir dissolved the previous parliament.

Mr Barrack's arrest could galvanise public support for the opposition, which has mounted significant demonstrations in recent weeks. On October 21, security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse what the opposition said was the country's largest political gathering.

edickinson@thenational.ae