Kuwait police block main square amid calls for anti-government rallies

KUWAIT CITY — Police barricaded a main square in Kuwait’s capital Tuesday before planned protests for greater political freedoms that could bring another Gulf state into the surge for reforms around the Arab world.

The police cordons around Kuwait City’s central Safat Square were a high-profile warning to demonstrators, but organizers used social media to point to alternative sites in attempts to keep a step ahead of the crackdown.

Although the calls for protests would mark the first in Kuwait since the stunning Arab uprisings, the oil-rich Gulf nation is no stranger to political showdowns. Kuwait has the region’s most powerful parliament and opposition lawmakers have waged open battles against the ruling system, including nearly bringing down the prime minister two times with no-confidence votes.

One of the protest slogans: “Leave! We Deserve Better!”

The planned rallies were timed to dovetail with the return of parliament from a nearly monthlong recess.

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