Anti-government protesters forced their way into Kuwait's parliament during a debate over efforts to question the prime minister about corruption allegations yesterday, sang the national anthem and aftter that left, while housands protested outside the building. Oppostion surces warn that the country is threatened by a growing political crisis.
The intrusion took place after pro-government members of parliament succeeded in voting down a motion by the opposition in which it requested to summon Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah in order to question him over claims that government officials illegally transferred money to accounts outside the country. Last month, Kuwait's foreign minister resigned over the same scandal.
Kuwait's affairas are run by the ruling Al-Sabah family, but it has a much more powerful parliament than any of the other Gulf states. So far the country not been hit by major pro-reform demonstrations inspired by Arab uprisings, but last months, it was hit by a wave of strikes that grounded the state airline and threatened to disrupt oil shipments.
In January, its emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, ordered 1,000 dinar ($3,559) grants and free food coupons for every Kuwaiti in order to buy off unrest. Those handouts have been since dwarfed by other Gulf rulers trying to use their riches to dampen calls for political reform, AP reports. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has pledged about $93 billion for more government sector jobs and services. Last month, Qatar announced pay and benefit hikes of 60 percent for public employees and up to 120 percent for some military officers.