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Kuwaiti police clamp down early on a planned protest

Kuwaiti police have used teargas and stun grenades to disperse demonstrations against election-law changes after previous unrest. The opposition said that amending the rules amounted to a coup against the constitution.

Kuwait's Interior Ministry had warned that it would not tolerate any protests, and so it went. As demonstrators gathered in various parts of the capital to march toward the government headquarters, riot police surrounded several of them, gave a brief period for them to disperse and then attacked them with teargas and percussion grenades. Witnesses told news agencies that they saw several people injured.

Organizers had expected the protest to be "the biggest procession in the history of Kuwait" and advised people to remain peaceful after the ministry issued its warning. The demonstrators had been scheduled to march on the Seif Palace, which houses offices of the emir, crown prince and prime minister.

The protest was called by the Islamist and nationalist-led opposition to protest a decision by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to amend the electoral law despite its having been confirmed by a court last month. A government decree issued Saturday changed the voting system for the elections, allowing citizens to only vote for one candidate rather than four as stipulated under a 2006 election law.

The state prosecution also issued an arrest warrant for a member of the 2012 parliament which failed to convene, Osama al-Munawer. Three other former opposition MPs have been detained since Thursday. The prosecution extended their detentions by 10 days, according to a defense attorney.

The political turmoil has had a strong impact on the Kuwait Stock Exchange, which fell by 3.05 percent at the start of the business week on Sunday, making it the biggest one-day loss in over three years.

mkg/pfd (AFP, Reuters, dpa)