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Kuwait arrests opposition leader for negative comments against regime

Opposition leader and former MP Mussallam Al Barrak [Gulf News backgrounder] was arrested on Tuesday after criticizing leader Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, which is a crime under Kuwait's constitution. Barrak was arrested [Gulf News Report] after a public speech on October 15 was found to contain remarks detrimental to the "social and political balance of the country." His remarks broke the silence surrounding criticisms of the regime that has lasted for decades. The rally was in opposition to a controversial election law that the opposition claims is illegal and will establish a rubber stamp parliament. Despite stern warnings against further protests, the opposition is planning another rally after riot police broke up a rally on October 21 that is being called the largest in Kuwaiti history. The public is sharply divided [Gulf News report] on Barrak's arrest with some attacking the law while others simply claim he broke the law and should be subject to it like anyone else.

Kuwait's constitutional court upheld [JURIST report] the election law in September. In August, leaders of the political opposition in Kuwait criticized [JURIST report] the government's efforts to change the country's election law through the Constitutional Court, saying the government is attempting to seize power through the court in violation of the constitution. The government announced in August that they had asked the national Constitutional Court to review the legality of the country's election law. In June the Constitutional Court ruled that this year's election for the new parliament was unconstitutional [JURIST report] and the previous parliament of 2009 should be reinstated, thereby removing the opposition-controlled parliament, and restoring a more government-friendly body.

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