Kuwait’s Emir pardons dissidents and reduces jail time

The move had been demanded by MPs blocking key fiscal reforms

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad gestures as he takes the oath of office. Reuters
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Kuwait’s Emir issued two decrees on Saturday granting pardons or reduced sentences for 35 dissidents, meeting a demand of MPs who had been in a months-long stand-off with the government.

In October, Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad instructed officials to prepare an amnesty for politicians and former MPs.

The decree, published in the Official Bulletin, scrapped prison terms given to 11 politicians including Musallam Al Barrak, Jamaan Al Harbash and Faisal Al Muslim, who were sentenced for storming the parliament building during the 2011 Arab uprisings.

The dissidents had joined protesters in accusing the government of corruption and mismanagement and have lived in self-imposed exile in Turkey since fleeing Kuwait.

The opposition group had made the men’s release a condition of ending a political impasse that has held up planned fiscal reforms in the state.

Sheikh Nawaf also pardoned members of the so-called Abdali Cell who were sentenced for spying for Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The cell was dismantled in 2015.

On Monday, Kuwait’s government submitted its resignation to the Emir. He has yet to accept or reject it.

The authorities are trying to mend differences with the parliament that have hindered economic reforms at a time when low oil prices and the Covid-19 pandemic has hit the state budget.

Kuwait does not permit political parties, but its legislature has significant influence in scrutinising the government, passing or rejecting bills and submitting no-confidence votes against senior government officials.

Updated: November 13, 2021, 6:06 PM