November 12, 2012 - Kuwaitis have protested in massive numbers in recent weeks in opposition to a new election law that hampers the political power of opposition groups. The demonstrations are only the most recent wave of anti-government protests, and the reaction by the gulf country's leaders threatens the right to peaceful assembly, the right to free speech, and the integrity of Kuwait's democratic institutions.
Citing mismanagement of public funds, inefficiency, and corruption, Kuwaitis began protesting against the government last June. Citizens and opposition politicians demanded the resignation of Prime Minister al-Sabbah, who was appointed by the emir and is a member of the royal family. Yet after al-Sabbah resigned, the Constitutional Court dissolved parliament and replaced it with one aligned with the emir and royal family. In August, the new parliament reformed voting laws to benefit the interests of the emir.
About 200,000 Kuwaitis, roughly 10 percent of the population, marched through the streets of Kuwait City in late October to protest these changes. Police used teargas and rubber bullets to break up the peaceful demonstration. Following that, the government banned all marches and arrested an opposition leader on charges of insulting the emir.