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Thousands of Kuwaitis storm parliament

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, November 17, 2011 6:11 EDT
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Thousands of Kuwaitis stormed parliament after police and elite forces beat up protesters marching on the prime minister’s home to demand he resign, an opposition MP said.

The demonstrators broke open parliament’s gates and entered the main chamber, where they sang the national anthem in a country so far spared the “Arab Spring” pro-reform revolts.

“Now, we have entered the house of the people,” said Mussallam al-Barrak, who led the protest with several other lawmakers and youth activists also calling for the dissolution of parliament over alleged corruption.

The group left after a few minutes.

Police earlier used batons to prevent protesters chanting “the people want to remove the prime minister” from marching to the residence of premier Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family.

Witnesses said at least five demonstrators were injured and treated at the scene.

Some activists said they would continue to camp outside parliament until the premier was sacked.

It was the first political violence in the oil-rich Gulf state since December, when elite forces beat up protesters and MPs at a public rally.

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 $350 million (259 million euros) in bribes, apparently for their parliament votes.

The public prosecutor has opened an unprecedented investigation into the case after several local banks referred accounts held by MPs on suspicions of receiving huge illegal deposits.

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 become widespread.

Also on Wednesday, about 20 opposition lawmakers boycotted a parliamentary session a day after the government and its supporters rejected a bid by the opposition to quiz the prime minister over corruption allegations.

After the rejection, three opposition MPs filed a fresh request to question Sheikh Nasser over allegations of graft involving MPs and illegal overseas money transfers.

The premier has been a target of opposition criticism since he was appointed to the job in February 2006, forcing him to resign six times, and dissolving parliament and holding fresh elections on three occasions.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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