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New Kuwaiti parliament to review disputed electoral rule

Published:

The disputed new electoral rule that ignited protests in Kuwait last month will be left to the upcoming parliament for revision.

Kuwait’s Emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said in a televised statement on Monday that he had left the decision to the upcoming parliament to “revise” the election law amendments.

“We strive to protect the country’s national unity and strengthen democracy,” Al-Sabah said.

In the same time, the emir said that the government will not falter in face of threats challenging the country’s security.

Earlier Monday, Kuwait's government warned that it will subdue any unauthorized street protests, citing public safety as priority.

Despite increased tensions between the elected parliament and the government, Kuwait has avoided unrest seen in other Arab Spring countries.

Changes in the constitution’s electoral law had triggered protest last month in OPEC member country.

The opposition has called the changes - which allow voters to choose only one candidate per electoral district – “a coup against the constitution,” saying the reform would prevent its candidates from winning the majority they won in the last vote.

The government said the amendments were needed to preserve national unity.

Last month, an opposition-led demonstration by thousands ended in clashes between protesters and police in which at least 30 people were taken to hospital.

“We will continue. The opposition no longer cares about government statements,” an activist, who kept his identity anonymous, said.

The opposition said that forging an electoral alliance, which depends on supporters of one candidate voting for another in exchange for reciprocal support, would become unfeasible under the new system.

Demonstrations about local issues occur frequently in Kuwait, which tolerates more public dissent than some of its Gulf neighbors. Violence had previously been very rare.