UPDATE 2-Kuwait orders tight security after parliament stormed

Thu Nov 17, 2011 3:24pm GMT

Related Topics

* Emir calls for tough action to maintain public order

* Statement follows storming of parliament on Wednesday

* Opposition MP says more protests to follow (Adds colour)

By Eman Goma

KUWAIT, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Kuwait's emir ordered security forces on Thursday to "take all measures" to maintain public order after protesters stormed parliament demanding the resignation of the prime minister over alleged corruption.

An opposition lawmaker, who took part in the invasion of parliament on Wednesday night, threatened more protests if the government and the assembly were not dissolved.

"His Highness (the emir) ordered the Interior Ministry and the National Guard to take all measures and preparations needed to confront all that affects the security of the country and the requirements for maintaining public order," the state's KUNA news agency said.

It was quoting a government spokesman after an emergency cabinet meeting chaired by Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, the emir or ruler of Kuwait.

Kuwait, a key regional U.S. ally and one of the world's main oil exporters, has largely escaped the so-called Arab Spring unrest that ended in the overthrow of the presidents of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Witnesses said the storming of parliament was the most serious protest to affect this Gulf Arab country in recent months.

Footage showed protesters, including some opposition lawmakers, pushing security aside as they forced open the doors of the assembly. White head dresses worn by Gulf men were strewn on the floor outside the gates of the assembly.

"The people want to bring down the head (of government)," the crowds chanted, recalling the cries of thousands of Egyptian demonstrators early this year demanding Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

The state's KUNA news agency said six members of the security forces were hurt in the incident.

Forensic experts were seen lifting fingerprints from the assembly building on Thursday after some MPs demanded that those involved in the raid be prosecuted.

CORRUPTION CHARGES

The protesters want the government headed by Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah, an influential member of the ruling family, to be sacked. They accuse him of corruption. He denies the allegation.

Wednesday's protest came the day after the government and parliament, in an unprecedented move, voted against a request by some lawmakers to question Sheikh Nasser in the assembly.

"We are now waiting for the dissolution of government and the parliament. Until this happens, Wednesday was only the first step among many. We don't fear anything except God," said opposition lawmaker Musallam al-Barak.

"This is our assembly and the people's assembly, not the assembly of those who use it to protect their interests. When the constitution is violated, the people will take revenge."

The Gulf Arab state has endured a long political stalemate and opposition has built up against Sheikh Nasser.

Media and witnesses said on Wednesday that before the storming of parliament, special police forces had beaten some demonstrators holding a weekly vigil near the assembly.

In May, two lawmakers attempted to question Sheikh Nasser over alleged misuse of public funds, a charge he denies. The request came days after he had unveiled his seventh cabinet.

The previous cabinet quit in March to avoid parliamentary questioning of three ministers. (Reporting by Eman Goma and Mahmoud Harbi; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Robert Woodward)

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