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Kuwait braces for 'biggest protest' against ruler decision

October 21, 2012

A sign reading “The nation's dignity hotel, welcome to the free people” is seen as Kuwaiti opposition supporters gather outside the Palace of Justice in Kuwait City to protest against the emir's desision to amend the electoral law on October 19, 2012. Kuwait appeared on the brink of a political confrontation after its ruler ordered the Gulf state's electoral law to be amended and the opposition announced it will boycott polls. –AFP PHOTO

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait was braced on Sunday for what organisers said would be a massive rally to protest a decision by the ruler of the oil-rich Gulf state to amend the electoral law.

Organisers said it would be “the biggest procession in the history of Kuwait” and advised people to remain peaceful after a stern warning by authorities to prevent any “illegal” demonstration.

Three main points in the capital Kuwait City have been allocated for demonstrators to assemble and simultaneously march on the nearby Seif Palace which houses offices for the emir, crown prince and prime minister.

The interior ministry cautioned that processions are illegal in Kuwait and that protesters can only gather in a square opposite the parliament building, warning it would deal harshly with violators.

The protest was called by the religious and nationalist-led opposition to protest a decision by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, 83, to amend the electoral law despite it having been confirmed by a court last month.

The opposition, which decided to boycott polls called for December 1, said the move aims to manipulate the outcome and create a rubber-stamp parliament.

In the latest clampdown on opposition leaders and activists, the public prosecution has issued an arrest warrant for a member of the scrapped 2012 parliament, Osama al-Munawer.

Munawer joins three former opposition MPs who have been in detention since Thursday in addition to four opposition activists arrested on Monday after clashes with riot police.

Political tension has strongly impacted the Kuwait Stock Exchange which shed 3.05 percent at the start of the business week on Sunday, the biggest single day loss in over three years.

The wrangling in the OPEC member has stalled development despite abundant oil-driven surpluses of over $400 billion.