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Kuwait's PM narrowly survives parliament vote

25 MPs in 50-seat assembly vote in support of PM

Kuwait's premier on Wednesday narrowly survived a parliament vote seen as a serious bid by the opposition to oust him, speaker Jassem al-Khorafi said.

Twenty-five MPs in the 50-seat assembly voted in support of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Ahmed al-Sabah, while 22 were against him and one abstained.

One MP is a minister who cannot vote on such issues, while another MP is outside Kuwait.

The motion of "non-cooperation" was filed on Dec. 28 by opposition lawmakers who accused the premier of breaching the constitution and suppressing freedoms. It required the support of 25 MPs to be passed.

Opposition MPs, comprising Islamists, liberals, nationalists and tribals, have accused Sheikh Nasser of ordering a police crackdown on an opposition gathering last month and attempting to stifle public freedoms.

The opposition anticipated the vote by organizing a massive rally late Tuesday night at which prominent MPs vowed to continue working to bring the downfall of the Kuwaiti government.

"We will not remain silent and we will not accept Sheikh Nasser and his government ... There is not enough space for us and the government to coexist under parliament's roof," cried MP Mussallam al-Barrak.

Addressing the large gathering in Kuwait City, Islamist MP Faisal al-Muslim insisted that Wednesday's vote "is just the beginning" in a prolonged campaign to oust the government.

Tightened security

Earlier, security was beefed up around the parliament complex in Kuwait City, with hundreds of policemen controlling the main roads leading to the building.

Parliament Speaker Khorafi and two senior government ministers called for halting protests and focusing on development.

Kuwait, OPEC's fifth largest producer, which sits on 10 percent of proven oil reserves and has assets estimated at $300 billion, has been rocked with almost non-stop political conflicts since Sheikh Nasser was appointed in February 2006.

During this period, parliament was dissolved three times and fresh elections were held and Sheikh Nasser, 70, resigned five times, stalling development projects in the process.

The premier accepted to be grilled for the first time in Dec 2009. He easily defeated a non-cooperation motion by 35 votes against 13.

Kuwaiti newspapers and writers warned Wednesday that the current crisis was the most serious in Kuwait's modern history.

Experts and observers are certain that the prime minister will defeat the attempt on his seat, but very few believe that the ongoing political crisis will come to an end.

MP Saadoun stressed at a rally late Monday night that the opposition will not accept the prime minister to continue even if he defeats the non-cooperation motion, saying that this government does not deserve to continue, the Kuwait Times reported on Wednesday.