Kuwait parliament postpones discussing women's vote
Kuwait, Politics, 11/10/1999
The Kuwait Parliament members on Tuesday postponed discussions on offering women the right to vote and to be candidates for election, matters which raise strong divisions in the Kuwaiti political class and public opinion.
The fifty parliament members and the 14 ministers who also have the right to vote decided to postpone discussions on this issue to coming parliamentary sessions. But they did not set a date for such discussions, and they did not, in their interventions, directly indicatethe decree issued on this respect.
They preferred to dedicate their interventions to the address made by the ruler of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah, at the inauguration of the parliamentary session in October, during which he called on parliamentarians and the government to cooperate.
Some 150 Kuwaiti women attended the discussions of the Kuwaiti Parliament yesterday at the initiative of women's activists in the area for defending women's rights, with the hope of approving the decision to offer women the right to vote and be candidates for election.
The session was also attended by Kuwaiti Crown Prince and Premier Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah.
In July, the ruler of Kuwait enacted an Emiri decree that provides for giving women the right to take part in elections (to be voters and candidates) as of the beginning of the year 2003.
The question of women's right to vote raised a great controversy in the Kuwaiti public opinion before the issue was debated at the parliament.
The Kuwaiti writer Fatimah al-Ali accused certain groups of working to prevent women from taking their political rights.
She said: "We did not come to ask for an award to the Kuwaiti women. We are here just to correct an oppression put on the women."
For her part, the chairperson of the political committee at the Kuwaiti Women's Union, Kawthar al-Jou'an, criticized the Parliament's interior and defense committees which last week criticized the Emiri decree and considered it a violation of the constitution, because the decree was enacted during the parliament's dissolution.
She called on the parliament members to stop arguing over the legality of the decree.
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