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Tue 22 Nov 2011 06:41 PM

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Kuwait orders arrest of 45 anti-gov't protesters

Security source says public prosecutor calls for crackdown after storming of parliament

Kuwait orders arrest of 45 anti-gov't protesters
Kuwaitis gather outside the parliament in Kuwait City on November 21, 2011, during a protest calling for the resignation of the government over a graft scandal involving MPs as the opposition mounted a fierce campaign to oust the prime minister. (AFP/Getty Images)

Kuwait's public prosecutor ordered the country's Interior Ministry on Tuesday to arrest 45 people accused of involvement in the storming of the parliament building during an anti-government protest last week, a security source said.

Dozens of protesters, including some opposition lawmakers, forced their way into the assembly on Wednesday and hundreds more demonstrated outside, demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah step down.

"They do not include lawmakers... The lawmakers will be dealt with separately," the source told Reuters, without elaborating.

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah has denounced the storming of parliament as a "black day" and ordered security forces to take "all necessary measures" to maintain public order.

A Kuwaiti newspaper quoted the emir as saying earlier this week that 40 people have been referred to the prosecutor.

For several months, hundreds of people have protested outside parliament each week to demand the removal of Sheikh Nasser, whom they accuse of corruption.

The storming of parliament was a rare reflection of the political ferment that has toppled rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, but has so far had little impact in Kuwait, whose citizens enjoy a generous welfare system and a vibrant parliament, though with limited powers, rare among Gulf Arab states.

Footage showed protesters, including some opposition lawmakers, pushing security aside as they forced open the doors of the assembly. White head dresses worn by Gulf men were strewn on the floor outside the gates of the assembly.

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