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Kuwait opposition leader sentenced to 5 years

KUWAIT CITY — A leader of Kuwait’s opposition has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of insulting the emir during a political rally last year, opposition groups said Monday.

The sentence against Mussallam al-Barrack, former Parliament member, could rekindle street protests that flared during disputes over parliamentary elections in December.

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Barrack led a boycott movement to protest changes in voting rules ordered by the emir.

Violent clashes erupted after Barrack was detained and authorities temporarily imposed rules that limited public gatherings.

In a speech in October, Barrack accused the emir of running the country as an ‘‘autocracy.’’ Opposition groups and Kuwait media reported the Monday sentencing.

Last week, Kuwait officials began considering a media law that reports say could bring fines of about $1 million for insulting the ruling family.

In a separate development Monday, Kuwait said it hosted a Palestinian leader for the first time in more than 20 years after ties were broken over the 1990 Iraq invasion of the Gulf state.

At that time, Yasser Arafat, then Palestinian leader, was perceived as sympathetic to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and opposed to the US-led invasion to oust Iraqi forces.

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