Wednesday, August 10, 2022

In long-awaited move, Kuwait’s emir pardons dissidents

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (NWN) – Kuwait’s emir has issued a long-awaited amnesty decree aimed at overcoming a major government impasse, waiving and reducing the sentences of nearly three dozen Kuwaiti dissidents.

A royal decree published in Kuwait’s Official Gazette late Saturday said Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah cut the sentences of 11 politicians jailed for attacking the country’s parliament amid the 2011 Arab Spring uprising Along with this, forgiveness and leniency were also given. 24 sentences of others.

As pro-democracy protests hit the region in 2011, scores of Kuwaiti opposition figures and lawmakers made their way into Kuwait’s parliament building, calling for the removal of the prime minister, whom they accused of corruption. The country’s highest court sentenced several Islamist lawmakers to years in prison, including a prominent opposition leader, Musallam al-Bairak, who also served two years on separate charges. Al-Bairaq and other dissidents pardoned on Saturday had been living in self-exile in Turkey for years.

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Also pardoned were members of a group known as the al-Abdali cell, whose arrest for links to Shia powerhouse Iran touched on sensitive sectarian issues in Kuwait, a Sunni-majority country that had previously used suicide bombings. Has suffered explosions and other attacks. Authorities launched extensive crackdowns against suspected Islamist extremists and in 2015 dismantled the al-Abdali group.

Photos shared on Kuwaiti social media on Sunday showed a crowd of inmates’ families clad in white robes hugging their pardoned relatives outside the country’s central prison.

The amnesty marks a breakthrough in a long-running standoff between the emir-appointed government and parliament, the most empowered legislative body among the Persian Gulf desert sheikhs. Parliament can introduce laws and question ministers, although the Emir of the country has final authority and family members hold senior positions.

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Tensions have intensified between opposition lawmakers and state officials, blocking efforts to launch economic reforms and the passage of a debt law that would badly relieve the state’s finances. The government resigned last week for the second time this year, a move that analysts say could lay the groundwork for new appointments amid Amir’s much-awaited apology.

Sheikh Nawaf formally accepted the government’s resignation on Sunday, the state-run Kuna Agency said.

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