October 30, 2012 - 12:43 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Kuwaiti authorities arrested an opposition leader late on Monday, Oct 29, after he made comments viewed as critical of the Gulf Arab state's ruler, Reuters reported citing a political activist.
Musallam al-Barrak, a former lawmaker and a prominent figure in the nationalist Popular Action Bloc, was arrested on Monday night following a news conference at his house where he called on the government to abide by the constitution.
His arrest seems likely to fuel political tensions in the oil exporting state, which has seen some violent protests in recent weeks following changes to the country's electoral law that critics say will hamper the opposition in a parliamentary ballot scheduled for December 1.
At an opposition-led rally on October 15 where Kuwaiti civilians clashed with riot police, Barrak appealed to Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah to avoid "autocratic rule".
Although Kuwait allows more freedom of speech than some other Gulf states, the emir, who has the last say in state affairs, is considered "immune and inviolable" in the constitution.
Last week, authorities released three former opposition lawmakers accused of criticizing the emir and four people arrested for taking part in protests this month. A court hearing for the former MPs was set for November 13.
Tens of thousands protested the electoral law reforms, which were ordered by the emir, leading to some of the worst violence in the country's recent history.
The opposition has said it will boycott the December 1 election.
On Monday, credit agency Fitch warned Kuwait on that further escalation of political protests could put its AA sovereign rating under pressure despite the nation's strong balance sheet.