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Kuwait arrests oppn chief

(AFP) / 31 October 2012

KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait Secret Service officers on Monday arrested prominent opposition leader and former MP Mussallam Al Barrak for publicly criticising the Gulf state Ruler, a rights official said.

“Members of the Secret Service arrested Barrak after they came to his residence and produced an official warrant issued by the public attorney,” director of the Kuwait Society for Human Rights Mohammad Al Humaidi said.

Humaidi, a lawyer, said Barrak was arrested on accusations that he made public remarks deemed offensive to the Amir of Kuwait, His Highness Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah.

Barrak, considered to be the main figure leading the opposition in Kuwait, made the remarks at a public rally on October 15 when he broke decades-old taboos by warning the Amir against changing the electoral law.

Last week, police arrested three former opposition MPs on similar charges and later released them on bail pending trial. A fourth former MP gave himself up and was released on bail after questioning.

Ahead of the arrest, hundreds of supporters gathered at Barrak’s residence in Al Andalus, around 20km southwest of Kuwait City, in a show of support for the outspoken politician.

Kuwait’s opposition has been staging protests against a decision by the Amir to amend the electoral law after the constitutional court last month confirmed the legislation was in line with the constitution.

The opposition claims that the change is not legal and is aimed at electing a rubber stamp parliament when voters go to polls on December 1.

More than 100 protesters were wounded at the hands of riot police during a massive rally on October 21 described as the largest in Kuwait history.

The opposition plans to stage another protest on November 4 amid stern warnings by the authorities that demonstrations will not be allowed.



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