Bloomberg News

Kuwait Holds Biggest Protest Demanding Premier’s Ouster

October 20, 2011

(Updates with government comment in fourth paragraph.)

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Kuwait’s opposition held its largest protest so far, calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah and a boycott of lawmakers who allegedly received millions of dinars in bribes.

At least 10,000 Kuwaitis gathered in front of parliament late yesterday to call for a change in government and dissolution of the National Assembly followed by fresh elections. Opposition lawmaker Faisal al-Muslim displayed what he said were checks issued by the prime minister to two members of parliament.

“This situation has destroyed Kuwait and killed future aspirations for its children,” al-Muslim told the crowd. “The transfer of millions of dinars into accounts is an assertion of the corrupt approaches in the country, and it is Kuwait that is paying the price.”

Naif al-Riqaibi, the undersecretary for local affairs in the office of the prime minister, denied the allegations. “Lawmaker Faisal al-Muslim’s claims that the prime minister has deposited two checks for lawmakers in the National Assembly is not true and goes against reality,” he said, according to a report by state news agency KUNA today.

Kuwait’s opposition has threatened to question senior Cabinet members including the prime minister over the alleged corruption scandal. The allegations have given new impetus to protests calling for the premier to quit, which began in March. Yesterday’s rally came a day after the government announced that Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah Al-Sabah’s resignation had been accepted. Sheikh Mohammed couldn’t be reached for comment.

Kuwait, OPEC’s fifth-biggest producer, created the Gulf’s first elected parliament half a century ago. Sheikh Nasser has survived three confidence votes in parliament since his appointment in 2006 and been forced to form seven separate administrations.

--Editors: Ben Holland, Heather Langan.

To contact the reporters on this story: Fiona MacDonald in Kuwait at fmacdonald4@bloomberg.net; Dahlia Kholaif in Kuwait at dkholaif@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net


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