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Defense minister survives no-confidence motion

Permission, hijab must for women to join army

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Defense Minister Sheikh Hamad Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah yesterday survived a no-confidence motion by 23 votes against 18, thanks mainly to 10 MPs who left the opposition ranks to vote in favor of the minister. The minister thanked lawmakers for renewing their trust in him and vowed he will continue to fight corruption.

The no-confidence motion was filed last week by opposition 10 MPs following a grilling by MP Hamdan Al-Azemi over accepting women in the army and over suspected corruption. The motion needed 24 votes to pass and automatically dismiss the minister, a senior member of the ruling Al-Sabah family.

Ten opposition MPs who were among the opposition bloc of 31 lawmakers voted in favor of the minister. Most of them said the charges against the minister did not qualify to vote him out of office. During a brief debate yesterday, two MPs spoke in favor of the minister and two spoke against him.

MP Abdullah Al-Turaiji described the minister as a reformist and charged that “public funds thieves normally target ministers who are members of the ruling family”. He said the minister had asked for a fatwa on women joining the military service and referred remarks made by the Audit Bureau on the Eurofighters deal to the Anti-Corruption Authority.

After the fatwa was issued by the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs’ fatwa authority, Sheikh Hamad set six conditions women have to meet in order to join the Kuwaiti army. Women must obtain their legal guardian’s or husband’s permission, must wear the hijab, work only in medical and support positions, avoid military and field training, must not carry weapons and enroll only when necessary to fill required vacancies.

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