KUWAIT - Kuwait banned gatherings of more than 20 people and gave police more powers to disperse protests, local media reported on Tuesday, in an escalating standoff with the opposition ahead of the Dec. 1 election.
Kuwait has been on edge since the emir ordered changes to the election law in a move condemned by the opposition as an attempt to undermine their chances in the vote. The opposition will boycott the poll and has called for protests.On Sunday, security forces used tear gas, stun grenades and smoke bombs against thousands of demonstrators as they began marching in downtown Kuwait City to protest against the changes. At least 29 people were hurt and more than 15, including a former member of parliament, were arrested.
"Citizens are not allowed to hold a gathering of more than 20 individuals on roads or at public locations without obtaining a permit from the concerned governor," the cabinet said in a statement carried by local newspapers.
"Police are entitled to prevent or disperse any unlicensed grouping."
Kuwait's oil wealth and generous welfare state have helped it avoid the kind of "Arab Spring" protests that toppled leaders elsewhere in the region, but the ruling Al Sabah family is facing an unprecedented challenge to its authority.