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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 17:25 GMT
Kuwait to discuss women's votes
Women in Kuwait
Kuwaiti Islamists say woman should be enfranchised
The Kuwaiti parliament is to debate a bill to grant women full political rights, a Kuwaiti minister has said.

Deputy Prime Minister Mohammad Sharar said that legislators would discuss the bill in March.

The measure, which has been approved by the cabinet, will allow women to vote and to stand for election.

Kuwait's Islamist Umma Party has said it backs the move, becoming the first Sunni Muslim group in the emirate to endorse women's suffrage.

The country's male-dominated parliament rejected a previous attempt to enfranchise women in 1999.

Mr Sharar said he expected the new bill to be adopted.

"We are optimistic that MPs will pass the bill this time. The bill is good and gives women full political rights," he was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

There has been domestic and international pressure on Kuwait to broaden political rights since its independence was restored after the 1991 Gulf War.

Kuwait's next parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2007.

Under its political system, a majority of the 50-member parliament, or National Assembly, are elected for four-year terms by about 15% of the population.

The prime minister and cabinet are chosen by the monarch, Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

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