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Barrak returns to Kuwait, thanks Amir for pardon

KUWAIT: Former opposition MPs Musallam Al-Barrak and Khaled Al-Tahous are welcomed by supporters as they arrived in Kuwait yesterday after being pardoned by the Amir. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat and Fouad Al-Shaikh

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Prominent opposition leader and former MP Musallam Al-Barrak yesterday returned to Kuwait after three and a half years in exile following an Amiri pardon, as hundreds of his supporters gave him a hero’s welcome. Barrak was accompanied on the same flight from Istanbul by former MP Khaled Al-Tahous and three activists who were also given Amiri pardons as part of a national dialogue to resolve political problems.

Barrak, Tahous and the activists thanked HH the Amir for pardoning them, and Barrak in particular wished the Amir good health. Dressed in a grey suit without a tie and with a Kuwaiti flag draped over his shoulders, Barrak and his companions kneeled down and kissed the soil of Kuwait immediately after disembarking the Kuwait Airways aircraft. Hundreds of supporters had waited for the returnees at T4 terminal at Kuwait Airport, but they had to move quickly to nearby Sheikh Saad Airport, where Barrak and the opposition activists were taken.

Hundreds others had been waiting at the diwaniyas of Barrak and Tahous and the three activists to greet them. Supporters thronged Barrak as he emerged from the airport, then carried him on their shoulders and shouted slogans. Barrak thanked the good treatment he was given by police officers, saying they completed all procedures within seconds.

His supporters also surrounded Barrak’s vehicle on the Fifth Ring Road on the way to his diwaniya. Traffic was paralyzed and came to a halt despite police intervention. At Barrak’s diwaniya in Andalus, preparations had started from Tuesday as people performed traditional bedouin dances and songs, waving swords in celebration for their hero’s return. Firecrackers were also burst.

Barrak and his companions were greeted by Kuwaiti travelers first at Istanbul Airport when he boarded the plane, which was brought back to the country by pilot Ammar Al-Ajmi, himself a former MP. The five exiles sang the Kuwaiti national anthem as the plane approached Kuwait Airport, according to videos posted on Twitter.

The five men were among some 15 former opposition MPs and activists who left Kuwait to Turkey in the summer of 2018 to escape jail terms passed on them by the top court for storming the national assembly building in 2011. On Monday, three former MPs returned to the country and two years ago two other former MPs returned to Kuwait after a special Amiri pardon.

Only former MP Faisal Al-Muslim has not returned so far and it is not immediately known when he is due to come back. Muslim has not been enthusiastic to the deal that led to the Amiri pardon, fearing of concessions in return for the pardon. Muslim has not made any comment for the past several days and his supporters have launched a campaign on Twitter urging him to return.


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