An appeals court in Kuwait has freed on bail an opposition leader at the centre of a political standoff, delaying the final verdict to an unspecified later date.
Mussallam al-Barrak, who has so far evaded arrest, was sentenced to five years in jail for insulting the the emir of the Gulf state.
Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Kuwait City, said that the delay is “probably the best situation” that the government could have opted for.
“On one hand, it appeases the opposition supporters, many of whom had threatened to stage large scale demonstrations if Barrak was put behind bars,” said Elshayyal.
“On the other hand, it may change the threat of sending him to jail that would be a cloud hanging over his head – a very valuable card for the government to use in its negotiations if continued political standoffs continue.”
Reacting to the court decision, opposition supporters who had gathered outside the court cheered and expressed happiness that the country’s diverse opposition had rallied around Barrak.
Elshayyal added that the opposition would still be “on edge” until any final verdict. The court has yet to decide a date for the next hearing.
He said this offers an opportunity for the two parties to reach an agreement, which could pave the way for a lighter or suspended sentence, which may ease the tense situation.