Middle East

Protesters storm Kuwaiti parliament

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Media captionPictures from a social networking site reportedly show protesters inside the parliament building - courtesy Al Jazeera

Dozens of Kuwaiti protesters stormed parliament late on Wednesday, as hundreds more demonstrated outside.

Eyewitnesses said they were demanding that Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah step down.

Hundreds of people, including opposition lawmakers, have been protesting weekly outside parliament over alleged corruption.

Some reports said riot police had beaten demonstrators using batons as they gathered outside parliament.

AFP news agency reports that at least five protesters were injured.

"Now, we have entered the house of the people," said Mussallam al-Barrak, who was among those who led the protest against Sheikh Nasser, a nephew of the emir.

Corruption claims

The demonstrators broke open the gates to the parliament building and managed to enter the main chamber, where they sang the national anthem and then left a short time later.

One eyewitness and protester told the BBC that guardsmen did not intervene when they entered the parliament building, stormed after protesters' attempt to march on the prime minister's house were blocked.

"Some people managed to get inside. No confrontation happened with the national guard who are guarding the building," junior doctor Mohammed told the BBC World Service.

"People are asking for more reforms, and especially as recently the government has not been going with the spirit of the constitution, which some regard as the absolute minimum of democracy."

As the crowd returned to the square outside, the protesters outside shouted: "The people want to bring down the head (of government)," Reuters reports.

Kuwait's parliament is one of the few elected bodies in the Gulf.

Kuwait has not seen the mass protests that toppled former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, thanks to a generous welfare system, observers say.

But opposition groups have escalated pressure on Kuwait's leadership in recent months over claims of corruption and perceived attempts to roll back political freedoms.

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