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World - Middle East

Kuwaiti ruler grants women the right to vote

graphic

May 16, 1999
Web posted at: 10:46 a.m. EDT (1446 GMT)

KUWAIT (CNN) -- The Kuwaiti cabinet granted women the right to vote and run for public office Sunday at the behest of the Persian Gulf nation's ruler.

A government statement said Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah ordered the decree "in appreciation of the effective and important role played by Kuwaiti women."

A legal committee has been formed to implement the request, which the government described as a "civilized step." Kuwait's state news agency said the decision will not take effect in time for parliamentary elections in July.

The emir dissolved parliament earlier this month and called for elections. The cabinet's decision must be reviewed by the new parliament, which could reject the measure.

"It depends on the makeup of the next parliament, but this decree could face objections -- although the fact that it is an emiri order gives it much weight and increases chances of endorsement by (the next) parliament," a Western diplomat said.

If approved, the decree would allow women to vote in the 2003 general elections.

Kuwait is the only Gulf state with an elected parliament. Women make up about half the country's population of about 800,000, and they compose almost a third of its workforce.

Among Gulf states, Qatar allows women to vote, but only for a council with advisory powers. Two women serve on Oman's consultative council, but that council is elected indirectly.



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RELATED SITES:
The State of Kuwait - Ministry of Information Office, Washington, DC, USA
KuwaitView: Your Guide to "Everything" Kuwaiti!
The Koran - Search index
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