Friday, 30 November 2012 19:05
KUWAIT CITY: Tens of thousands of supporters of the Kuwaiti opposition marched in the capital on Friday on the eve of election to urge voters to boycott the polls in protest against a change to the electoral law.
Chanting slogans "we are boycotting" and "the people want the repeal of the amendment", the demonstrators marched peacefully after authorities issued a permit unlike the previous protests which turned violent.
Large numbers of women, many of whom veiled, and children carrying Kuwaiti flags and orange colour banners, took part in the protest described by onlookers as one of the biggest in this oil-rich Gulf state.
Several leading opposition figures and former MPs like ex-speaker Ahmad al-Saadun, Mussallam al-Barrak, Faisal al-Muslim and others led the protest.
The Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition says the poll boycott is in protest at the government's unilateral amendment of the electoral law, which it describes as a violation of the constitution.
The opposition claims the amendment allows the government to influence the outcome of the results and elect a rubber stamp parliament.
Under the previous law, Kuwaitis were able to vote for four of 10 MPs elected in each of the five constituencies, but that has now been reduced to only one.
Demonstrations held since October 21 have drawn tens of thousands of people, often turning violent when riot police used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters. Around 150 people and 24 policemen have been wounded in the protests.
The opposition has also stepped up a campaign to urge voters to shun the ballot by holding a large number of gatherings on almost daily basis and mobilised the so-called Popular Committee for Boycotting Election.
All opposition groups and figures have refused to register candidates for the polls.
The election is the second this year and the fifth since mid-2006 as the emirate is rocked by ongoing political crises between parliament and the government led by the ruling Al-Sabah family.
Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012