KUWAIT CITY — Kuwait's parliament on Tuesday handily rejected a decree by the country's ruler giving women the right to vote and run for office.
Religious conservatives were joined in the 41-21 vote by many liberal lawmakers who said they support women's rights but disapproved of the emir's issuing the edict while parliament was out of session.
"This is tragic," said Rula Dashti, a 35-year-old women's rights activist. "A parliament votes to limit democracy--what a farce!" Kuwait has the only elected parliament among the Arab nations of the Persian Gulf.
Hundreds of men applauded when the result was announced. Scores of women attended the meeting, sitting in a reserved section of the gallery.
However, supporters of women's voting rights will have a second chance. Five liberal lawmakers have submitted nearly identical legislation, which is scheduled for debate soon. Some parliament members have said they will vote for the new bill after the protest gesture of voting down the decree.
The law was one of 60 decrees issued by the emir, Sheik Jabbar al Ahmed al Sabah, soon after he dissolved parliament in May. New elections were held in July.
The emir has the constitutional right to pass laws on urgent matters when parliament is not in session, but the reconvened house can vote against them.
It is not clear if the legislation to be debated will muster enough votes in the house, where Muslim fundamentalists form a substantial bloc against it.