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Kuwait: Politician Mesaed al-Quraifa jailed for ‘insulting’ royal family

Former National Assembly candidate's conviction follows Kuwaiti emir's decision to dissolve parliament
Mesaed Al-Quraifa was sentenced to four years in prison with hard labour on 22 May (X)

A Kuwaiti politician has been handed a prison sentence for “insulting the authority of the emirate” just weeks after the country's emir dissolved parliament.

Former National Assembly candidate Mesaed Al-Quraifa was sentenced to four years in prison with hard labour on 22 May for criticising the royal family during his campaign for the 2024 National Assembly elections.

Quraifa was arrested on 23 April after the state's Public Prosecution office ordered a 21-day pre-trial detention, during which he was prevented from meeting with his family or lawyer.

His detention was related to comments he made during an election symposium he held with local residents on 30 March.  

He allegedly said that Kuwait “is not a testing ground for members of the ruling family".

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On 15 April Al-Quraifa posted on X saying that: “The continuation of the current situation is a danger to the future of the country… The political system must be reformed so that it is effective and the people have their role and say in forming the government.”

Earlier in May, Kuwait's Emir Mishal al-Ahmed Al Sabah announced the suspension of the Gulf state’s national assembly, along with several articles of the constitution, in order to review the “democratic process”, potentially until 2028.

During these four years, Emir Mishal al-Ahmed said he and the royal-appointed cabinet would assume the powers of the 50-member National Assembly.

The announcement came weeks after the Gulf country held elections.

Kuwait has suspended its parliament. Is it moving towards autocracy?
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Kuwait had the only elected parliament in the Gulf. The move comes after years of political deadlocks and reshuffles, with the assembly being dissolved four times in the last five years.

In recent months, MPs have accused the government of corruption, while the cabinet has said the parliament has blocked planned economic diversification. 

“The recent turmoil in the Kuwaiti political scene has reached a stage where we cannot remain silent, so we must take all necessary measures to achieve the best interest of the country and its people,” Emir Mishal al-Ahmed said.

“I will not allow by any means that democracy will be exploited to destroy the state.”

Amongst the seven suspended articles of the constitution is one that stipulates that a new parliament must be elected within two months of parliamentary dissolution, and another which states that laws must be approved by both parliament and the emir. 

The move effectively gives the emir full control over legislation. 

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