Sunday protests planned in Kuwait despite govt warning

Sun Nov 4, 2012 11:43am GMT

By Sylvia Westall and Ahmed Hagagy

KUWAIT (Reuters) - The opposition in Kuwait will press ahead with a march on Sunday to protest against new voting rules despite the government warning it will not tolerate unsanctioned demonstrations, an activist said.

The OPEC member and U.S. ally said on Saturday it had not authorised any protests and the prime minister warned police could use force if the authorities felt the Gulf Arab state was under serious threat.

Kuwait has avoided the kind of mass pro-democracy unrest seen in other Arab countries, but tensions have mounted between the elected parliament and the government.

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 said, declining to be named.

Kuwait's stock index fell to its lowest level since July 2004 on Sunday, according to Reuters data.

"Our duty is to maintain internal security and public order and to deter lawlessness in all of its forms," Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Hamoud al-Sabah said on state news agency KUNA.

Opposition politicians, youth groups and their followers have taken part in recent demonstrations protesting against changes to an electoral law, which was announced last month by ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.   Continued...

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