Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kuwaiti ruling family member wants PM replaced

KUWAIT, June 22 (Reuters) - Sheikh Fahad Salem al-Ali al-Sabah, a nephew of Kuwait's ruler, said political reform must be accelerated in the Gulf Arab country, beginning with the removal of the current prime minister.

A senior member of the ruling family and son of the head of Kuwait's national guards, Sheikh Fahad made the rare move of joining protesters earlier this month in a demonstration against Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah.

Although currently without a government portfolio, Sheikh Fahad owns Al Mustaqbal newspaper and the Mubasher television channel, which often cover anti-government protests. He was a prisoner of war during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

"Unfortunately we are heading into a dark tunnel... I went out with the protesters because I share and believe in their calls for change and reforms," Sheikh Fahad told Reuters in an interview in Kuwait City's Qurtuba Palace.

Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser, who is currently heading his seventh government since his appointment by Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah in 2006, has undergone fierce criticism from Kuwaiti opposition for what they say is his failure to fulfil the demands of the people.
"If the emir does not find a person from the family who is capable of being the prime minister and meets the demands of Kuwaiti citizens, I suggest that he chooses from outside the family," Sheikh Fahad said, as he sat in one of the palace's dewaniyas, or reception rooms.

The Emir, who has final say in Kuwaiti politics, appoints the prime minister, who has always been from the al-Sabah family.

Sheikh Fahad said Arab leaders should learn from the overthrow of the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia in popular uprisings that modest attempts at reform were not enough.

"Now I think that any Arab leader who wants to remain in his position and preserve his country's future should start changing according to the demands of his people, and not according to what he thinks...the era of guardianship is over now."

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