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Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 08:21 GMT
Kuwaiti court rejects vote for women
Kuwait: The only Gulf Arab state with elected parliament
Kuwait's Constitutional Court has rejected a test case seeking to give women the vote.

The entire state is walking on the path of Islamist direction. Women's rights were blocked in parliament because of the Islamists

Petitioner Adnan a-Isa
The case before the country's highest judicial body was the latest move by women and some male supporters to try to end the all-male dominance of parliament and political institutions.

The court rejected a case brought by Adnan al-Isa, a man who sued the elections department for failing to register the names of women, including his wife, on electoral lists.

The head of the court, Judge Abdullah al-Isa, gave no immediate explanation on announcing the ruling. But it is reported to have been based on the argument that only the government, parliament and other courts can submit petitions to the constitutional court.

Emir's move spurned

In 1999, the Kuwaiti parliament voted down a decree by the country's ruling emir, Sheikh Jabar al-Ahmad al-Sabah, which would have allowed women to vote.

Sheikh Jabar al-Ahmad al-Sabah
Sheikh Jabar al-Ahmad al-Sabah granted women the vote

Several women activists responded by bringing lawsuits to secure the right themselves. However, in July last year, the courts rejected several such cases over a technicality.

The Kuwaiti constitution gives men and women equal rights, but an election law has since denied women voting rights.

Kuwaiti women, said to be among the most emancipated in the conservative Gulf region, can travel, drive and work without their fathers' or husbands' consent and hold some senior government positions.

Women activists have other cases before Kuwaiti courts as part of a drive to gain rights for women.

The latest move comes as Kuwait prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War, which convulsed the region.

Speaking after hearing the court ruling against him, Adnan Isa said: "The entire state is walking on the path of Islamist direction. Women's rights were blocked in parliament because of the Islamists."

Kuwait had its first general elections in 1962, just months after independence, but parliament has been suspended twice since then. The last elections were held in July 1999.

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See also:

20 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Kuwait
30 Nov 99 | Middle East
No vote for Kuwaiti women
17 Jul 99 | Middle East
Kuwait's royalty backs women
09 Mar 99 | Middle East
Analysis: Gulf democracy gets boost
01 Jul 99 | Middle East
Kuwait elections go online
15 Jan 01 | Middle East
Kuwait's crossroads
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