KUWAIT: 2,000 rally to demand resignation of embattled prime minister
Pressure is building on Kuwait's embattled Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Ahmad Sabah, who has come under fire for refusing to be questioned in parliament for allegedly misusing public funds, among other accusations.
Around 2,000 people took to the streets of the oil-rich gulf country's capital amid tight security, chanting, "The people want to topple the head [of government]," in reference to Sheikh Nasser, according to Agence-France Presse.
Local Kuwaiti media reports said activists had dubbed the protest "Day of Rage" and that demonstrators, flanked by hundreds of police in riot gear, marched on the National Assembly on Friday night holding banners reading, "The youth want reform of the regime” and "Youths want the closure of corrupt channels,” while chanting against the prime minister.
Some demonstrators went one step further and called for a popularly elected head of government, indicating that they don't want another prime minister from Kuwait's ruling Sabah family, which has governed the country for more than 250 years.
But rally-goers and speakers reportedly made a point of showing that they were not demonstrating against the emir or the ruling family itself, but for the premier's ouster.
No violence was reported, but harsh words were exchanged between some protesters and a small group of Sheikh Nasser supporters who marched nearby holding signs reading, “Sheikh Nasser stays and troublesome MPs leave,” according to the Kuwaiti Arab Times newspaper.
Aside from the prime minister post, members of the Sabah family hold several other key positions, including the defense and foreign affairs posts.
The 71-year-old Sheikh Nasser's five years as premier have been marked by turbulence and he has come under constant fire by the opposition.
He has resigned six times, and he formed his seventh Cabinet a couple of weeks ago.
Kuwaiti protesters are reportedly staging new rallies next Friday that they have dubbed "Day of Departure."
--Alexandra Sandels in Beirut
Photo: Demonstrators rally against Kuwaiti premier Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Ahmad Sabah on Friday. Credit: Kuwait Times website.