Security services block anti-government protest


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The Independent Online

Security forces blocked hundreds of protesters from staging a rally outside the parliament building as Kuwait's emir denounced anti-government factions for threatening to “tear apart” the nation.

The hardline stance underscored the potential for Kuwait's tensions to escalate into more serious clashes and further polarise the Gulf state between backers of the ruling establishment and groups claiming it overstepped its powers.

In a speech to inaugurate the new parliament – almost completely pro-government after the opposition boycott – Kuwait's emir sharply criticised opposition groups for their aggressive election boycott campaign in which they labelled voters as traitors. "Saying that fellow citizens have committed treason only because they have a different opinion is not acceptable," said the emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah. "We will not tolerate attempts from anyone to tear apart the unity of the nation."

On Saturday, more than 1,000 protesters held an overnight occupation of streets in a Kuwait City commercial district.

One of the main protest leaders, Mussallam al-Barrack, urged supporters not back down until the emir disbands the "parliament of puppets" and sets new elections.