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Published: Thursday June 26, 2014 MYT 6:10:02 PM
Updated: Thursday June 26, 2014 MYT 6:11:19 PM

With eye on Iraq, Kuwait urges end to political games

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Kuwait's ruler has told his people not to threaten stability by playing "games" with politics, pointing to turmoil in neighbouring Iraq and elsewhere as examples of the dangers of political division.

"We do not have this luxury of differences and divisions and empty arguments and political games while catastrophes are right at our doorstep," the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, said in the address late on Wednesday. "Are you aware of what is going on not far from us?" he added.

Sheikh Sabah did not mention any country, but his comments appeared to refer to former occupier Iraq, which has been plunged deeper into turmoil by militant Islamist fighters' sudden capture this month of much of northern Iraq.

The emir urged Kuwaitis not to publicly discuss an investigation into reports of a recording of people discussing an alleged plot against the governing system in the hereditary-ruled country, saying the matter was being dealt with by the courts.

Kuwait's public prosecutor opened a case in December after a legal complaint which demanded an investigation into tweets about the alleged recording. Official media have said the alleged tape implicates unnamed people in an alleged plot "to overthrow the ruling system and challenge the rights and authority of his highness the emir".

Few concrete details about the alleged plot have emerged. Social media have been full of comments, with some suggesting that the case could damage relations inside the ruling family.

"It pains me that these events and practices are taking place while Kuwait is facing massive dangers and serious challenges," Sheikh Sabah said.

Invaded by Iraq in 1990 before being liberated by a U.S.-led alliance in 1991, OPEC producer Kuwait has a lively press and the most open political system in the Gulf Arab region, thanks to its elected parliament.

The 50-member assembly can question government ministers and block legislation, while the emir has final say in state affairs.

"The scorching heat of the fires burning around us have nearly reached us and those displaced from their homes have reached millions and hundreds of victims are falling every day," the emir said.

"Now, more than ever, we need to close ranks and stand together to safely pass through these dangers which have swept and are sweeping those who are even stronger than us."

The emir said public discussion of the recording was itself "part of a widespread plot to undermine the state, its constitution and destabilize the country".

A judge also suspended two newspapers in April for two weeks after they published stories about the recording.

Kuwait's courts do not comment to the media about cases.

(Reporting by Ahmed Hagagy, Maha El Dahan, Editing by William Maclean and Andrew Heavens)

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