Hooded policeman using baton against protesters
After three months of anti-government protests, the winds of change are blowing stronger than ever in the kingdom of Kuwait. An election held at the beginning of December was supposed to calm things down, but it intensified the situation instead.
Protests began in Kuwait last October after the Emir, taking advantage of a dissolved parliament, changed voting rules in a way that favoured the ruling Al Sabah family, according to opposition parties.
The change, which reduced the number of votes per person from four to one, led to the opposition to call for a boycott of parliamentary elections schedule for December 1, 2012. As a result, the rate of abstention reached a record level of nearly 70 percent.
Against this backdrop, 200 to 300 people demonstrated on Sunday January 6, 2013 in the suburbs of Kuwait City, the capital of the emirate. Police were soon mobilised to break up the demonstration. They arrested 70 people including France 24’s correspondent in the Gulf, who has since been released.
The events coincided with the jailing of two Kuwaiti Twitter users to two years in prison for criticising the Emir and the Kuwaiti government on the microblogging site.
Even though it is the first monarchy in the Gulf to have an elected parliament, Kuwait has suffered political crises due to brewing discontent against the Al Sabah dynasty, which has ruled the country for more than 250 years and seems to be unwilling to share its power any time soon.
Video showing policemen mobilised to stamp out the protest (January 6)