In a long-awaited move, the Emir of Kuwait pardons dissidents

The Emir of Kuwait has issued a long-awaited amnesty decree, pardoning and reducing the sentences of nearly three dozen Kuwaiti dissidents in a move aimed at calming government confrontation.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The Emir of Kuwait has issued a long-awaited amnesty decree, pardoning and reducing the sentences of nearly three dozen Kuwaiti dissidents in a move aimed at calming a major government confrontation.

The royal decree, published late Saturday in Kuwait’s official gazette, said Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah cut the sentences of 11 politicians who landed in jail for assaulting the country’s parliament amid the Arab Spring 2011 uprisings. , as well as forgiveness and mitigation. the sentences of 24 others.

As pro-democracy protests swept the region in 2011, scores of prominent Kuwaiti oppositionists and lawmakers forced their way into Kuwait’s parliament building, demanding the removal of the prime minister, whom they accused of corruption. The country’s highest court has sentenced several Islamist lawmakers to years in prison, including Musallam al-Barrack, a major opposition leader who also served a two-year sentence for separate charges. Al-Barrack and other pardoned dissidents on Saturday lived in self-exile in Turkey for years.

Members of a group known as the al-Abdali cell were also pardoned, whose arrests for links to Shiite power Iran affected sensitive sectarian issues in Kuwait, a Sunni-majority country that had previously faced suicide bombings and other attacks. Authorities launched a widespread crackdown on suspected Islamic extremists and dismantled the al-Abdali group in 2015.

Photos shared on Kuwait social media on Sunday showed families of the inmates crowded outside the country’s Central Prison, hugging and mourning their forgiven relatives dressed in white clothing.

The amnesty marks a breakthrough in a long-fading confrontation between the Emir-elect government and parliament, the most empowered legislature among the deserted sheikhs of the Persian Gulf. Parliament can introduce laws and question ministers, although the country’s emir retains ultimate authority and ruling family members hold senior positions.

Tensions between opposition lawmakers and state officials have reached a fever, blocking efforts to initiate economic reforms and pass a debt law that would alleviate poorly tightened state finances. The government resigned last week for the second time this year, a move analysts said could lay the groundwork for new appointments amid the emirate’s long-awaited amnesty.

Sheikh Nawaf formally accepted the government’s resignation on Sunday, the state agency KUNA reported.

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