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Kuwaiti youth groups plan protests to remove PM

Some are demanding the appointment of a politician from outside the al-Sabah family, which has ruled Kuwait for about 250 years.


March 8, 2011 10:31 by

Youth groups plan to challenge Kuwait’s authorities on Tuesday and hold unauthorised protests to demand the removal of the prime minister and greater political freedom in the Gulf Arab state.

Kuwait, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, is home to the Gulf region’s most outspoken parliament but it does not allow political parties. Parliament is made up of individuals who form loose blocs.

Demonstrations are banned in Kuwait without prior approval and youth groups Kafi and al-Soor al-Khames (Fifth Fence), the main organisers, will present a challenge to the government since they have not sought approval for the protests. Inspired by unrest in the Middle East and North Africa that has toppled leaders in Tunisia and Egypt, the organisers want Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah to be replaced.

Some are demanding the appointment of a politician from outside the al-Sabah family, which has ruled Kuwait for about 250 years.

The prime minister, a nephew of the ruler, has already survived two non-cooperation motions in parliament since he was appointed in 2006. All other key portfolios such as defence, interior and foreign affairs are also held by al-Sabahs. The emir has the final say in all political matters.

Tension with stateless Arabs, longtime residents of Kuwait known as “bedoun” who clashed with police last month in protests demanding citizenship, appeared to be easing after some lawmakers promised to discuss a draft law in parliament on Tuesday that would grant them basic civil rights.

(Editing by Andrew Dobbie)


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