Shooting hasn't deterred leader of opposition

October 04, 1992|By Doug Struck

KUWAIT CITY -- In the first hours of Kuwait's liberation, tw men with silencers on their pistols came to the home of Hamad al-Jouan, a prominent critic of Kuwait's ruling family. They shot him in the chest and left him for dead.

Tomorrow, he is expected to be elected to the National Assembly, where he will lead the opposition demanding more democratic reforms.

His legs are paralyzed by the shooting. He spent 18 months in the United States for rehabilitation. But he returned just three weeks ago to prove he will not be silenced.

The shooting was never solved. His supporters contend it was arranged by someone in the ruling al-Sabah family. Mr. Jouan insists he no longer ponders the question: "I cannot let it haunt my life."

Nor will he soften his attacks on the government, which he believes must relinquish more power.

"This is not real democracy. Democracy is the whole alphabet, and this election is just step A," he says. "It's not democracy when any of our seven daily newspapers can be stopped from publishing by one minister signing a piece of paper."

AThough the al-Sabah family is permitting the elections now, "they are just showing the bright side of the moon," Mr. Jouan, 45, says.

A lawyer, Mr. Jouan feels if democracy fails now, "it may be the last straw for Kuwait." He intends to fight against that.

"Maybe I'm stronger now. I have more faith," he says before leaving for another night of campaigning. "I have more principles to stand for, even if I cannot stand physically."

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