KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait’s emir denounced as a “black day” the storming of parliament and said he would not dissolve the assembly or allow the prime minister to resign, as demanded by the opposition.
Hundreds of Kuwaitis broke into the parliament building last Wednesday to protest against Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, whom they accuse of corruption, but the emir said it was not their right to decide whether he be dismissed.
“Constitutionally, those are my powers. I appoint and I sack. Even if he tenders his resignation, I will not accept it,” the emir said in a meeting with the editors of Kuwaiti dailies, according to a transcript published in al-Wasat newspaper.
The emir appoints Kuwait’s government and the prime minister, who is traditionally a member of the ruling al-Sabah family. The 50-member parliament is elected.
“Dissolving the parliament and the government - these are my powers,” he said.
Wednesday’s protest came the day after the government and parliament voted against a request by some lawmakers to question Sheikh Nasser in the assembly, a move opposition parliamentarians said was in violation of the constitution.
“We are the ones who protect the constitution and they distort it,” said the emir, adding that 40 people had been referred to the prosecutor for forcing their way into the building, where they sang the national anthem before being made to leave.
The following day, the emir told security forces to take “all necessary measures” to maintain public order.
“(What happened) Wednesday ... storming in and breaking the doors to get into the assembly of which they are members and taking in 150 people: that’s what I call a black day,” he said.
Kuwait, a key regional U.S. ally and one of the world’s main oil exporters, has long prided itself in having one of the most liberal political systems in the region, particularly compared to its Gulf peers.
Asked his opinion on popular uprisings sweeping across the Middle East, the Emir responded: “Kuwait has been living the Arab Spring for years ... God willing, it will be fruitful.”
Writing by Isabel Coles