Kuwait's Political Unrest
Kuwait has been an imperfect democracy for nearly 50 years, governed by a constitution that was agreed to between the ruler and his people in 1963. Since then, the ruling family has tried numerous times to revoke that “social contract” which regulates the relationship between them and the people of Kuwait. Forging election results, halting constitutional life, and tampering with election laws have been their tools of choice. However, since the invasion of Kuwait by Saddam’s Iraq in 1990, during which the people of Kuwait upheld the rule of Al Sabah family in the name of the constitution, the rulers have given up their evident and hostile opposition to the constitution and particularly parliamentary representation and opted for “discretely” tampering with the outcomes of the parliamentary elections through changing the geographical electoral map, illegal financing of illegal “vote buying”, and control over state and other media outlets. In the past six years the ruling family has resorted to a divisive strategy, dividing the society based on religion, origin, and socioeconomic class and inciting conflict between the different classes.
The past 6 years have seen Kuwait regressing in every way, due mainly to the incapacity of the last two prime ministers and their governments to run the affairs of the country. Both prime ministers are nephews of the head of state, and the first one was ousted amidst popular anger after corruption has reached unparalleled levels. The previous elections (annulled by constitutional court due to a technicality) yielded a 70% “antigovernment pro-constitution” parliament.
Yesterday (October 19th, 2012) the head of state announced his intention to (unconstitutionally) change the electoral laws for the upcoming elections (due on or before November 5th), despite opposition from all political parties, constitutional experts, constitutional court ruling, and public outcries including protest rallies that resulted in clashes between protesters and the Special Forces resulting in the detention of 4 political activists and 3 ex-MPs. More MPs are expected to be detained in the coming days as well as protesters, many for criticizing (on Twitter) the head of state’s (then rumored) decision to tamper with election laws.
A major protest rally is planned for Sunday October 21st at 8 PM local time. Clashes between protestors and Special Forces are expected especially after the head of state stated that “the voice of the law is going to be louder”, and many fear the worse. Several activists have appealed to international human rights observers to “at least” observe and document the anticipated events on the ground.