Kuwait's Assembly to Meet Amid Protests

KUWAIT'S interim National Assembly meets today for the first time since the emirate was freed from Iraqi occupation. But the move is unlikely to satisfy opposition demands for greater democracy.Opponents, who dismiss the assembly as toothless, plan a protest meeting on the eve of the session to press for a swift return to parliamentary democracy as Kuwait tries to rebuild its political institutions after the Gulf war. "We want the people to be allowed to practice their right to decide how the country is run and, more importantly, how it should be rebuilt after liberation," says Abdulla Nibari, leader of the Kuwait Democratic Forum and a veteran member of the elected parliament that was suspended five years ago. Sheikh Jabir al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah, Kuwait's ruler, suspended parliament and the country's 1962 Constitution at the height of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, citing foreign conspiracy. The move followed a spate of bombings and an attempt on the emir's life. The opposition says the 75-seat National Assembly is an illegitimate form of representation, because it has no legislative power. One-third of its members are picked directly by the emir. The assembly met only once before Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait.

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