Kuwait City, (AFP) – Kuwait’s Interior Ministry on Tuesday blamed “troublemakers and agitators” for clashes with police at an anti-government protest where several people were wounded and six arrested.
The ministry said that the security forces had on Monday exercised restraint after protesters left the square where peaceful protests are allowed and marched in a procession toward policemen.
“Based on a pre-planned plot, a number of troublemakers and agitators… assaulted security men by pelting rocks and bottles at them,” wounding several policemen and protesters, the ministry said.
Kuwaiti riot police late Monday used batons to beat up opposition protesters as they marched in a procession following a rally in Kuwait City against an attempt to change the electoral constituency law.
Opposition activists have claimed that it was the riot police who sparked the confrontation as they tried to stop the peaceful march. They said at least four protesters were wounded and six others were arrested.
Defense lawyers said on Tuesday that authorities decided to detain those arrested for at least one more day pending interrogations and that they sent three of them to hospital for medical treatment.
In a comment posted on Twitter, The National Front, an umbrella for opposition groups, called for a sit-in later Tuesday to protest the arrests and police brutality.
During the rally Monday, former MP and prominent opposition leader Mussallam al-Barrak broke decades-old taboos in Kuwait by addressing the ruler directly in public and warning that the “Kuwaiti people will not allow the country to be governed by autocratic rule.”
Barrak charged that the government wants to influence the results of the forthcoming election to be held in 60 days to “produce a rubber-stamp parliament.”
Kuwait is scheduled to go to the polls for the second time this year and a fifth time since mid-2006, after Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah dissolved parliament last week.
The opposition has also warned that amending the law could further destabilize the oil-rich Gulf state and undermine relations with the Al-Sabah ruling family.
The Al-Sabahs have ruled the oil-rich emirate unchallenged for more than 250 years. The emir, crown prince, prime minister and key cabinet ministers are all from the ruling family.
The Gulf state has been rocked by a series of political crises since 2006 during which the government resigned nine times and parliament was dissolved on six occasions, five of them by the emir and one by the courts.