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Kuwait police disperse rally

Kuwait police used batons to disperse protesters chanting slogans against the prime minister on Wednesday, injuring an opposition MP, as a group of Kuwaitis wanted for storming the parliament last week turned themselves in, witnesses said.

November 24, 2011 1:52 by

A prosecutor had ordered the arrest of 45 people after protesters, including opposition lawmakers, forced their way into parliament last week as hundreds rallied outside, demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah step down over corruption accusations, which he denies.

The storming of parliament was a rare reflection of the political ferment that has toppled rulers in Egypt,Tunisia and Libya, but has so far had little impact in Kuwait, whose citizens enjoy a generous welfare system and a vibrant parliament, though with limited powers, rare among Gulf Arab states.

On Wednesday, baton-wielding police dispersed friends and relatives of the wanted protesters, who had gathered outside a security police building in the Gulf state, singing the national anthem and chanting “The people want the fall of the prime minister” and “Leave, leave”, the witnesses said.

Officers pushed people away from the building, witnesses said, adding that opposition MP Jamaan al-Harbish was hurt in the melee. Another witness said the supporters had tried to force their way into the building, ignoring police calls to leave.

A long-running political standoff between parliament and the government has pushed Kuwait from one political crisis to the next and delayed economic reforms and projects in the Western-allied OPEC oil exporter.

Earlier on Wednesday, Rashid Sanad al-Fadala, who was among those who had heard they were on a wanted list and were preparing to surrender to police said: “We believe in the rule of law. If they believe that we broke the law we are going right now to hand ourselves in.”
Another of those who turned himself in, Meshari al-Mutairi said: “This kind of thing will not stop us and will not weaken us or make us lose faith in our demands and our cause.” (Reporting by Isabel Coles; Writing by Firouz Sedarat in Dubai; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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