Manama: Kuwait’s parliament on Tuesday approved the first reading of a proposed national military service law and referred it to the parliamentary interior and defense committee for possible amendments ahead of the second reading.
The law was supported by 42 MPs and opposed by eight. Two of the 52 lawmakers present at the debate abstained from voting.
The law stipulates a one-year military service for Kuwaitis aged between 18 and 35. The 12 months include military training and a period of service; however, those who fail to pass the military training will have to undergo 15 months as conscripts.
All draftees will have to join the reserve forces and will undergo training for 30 days a year for 10 years or until they are 45 years old.
Under Article Three of the new law, Kuwaiti males cannot be appointed to government jobs or granted licences in the private sector unless they present a certificate attesting they underwent the military service or evidence they had been exempted.
Priority in public sector appointments will be given to those who undergo the military training, the law says.
The law exempted those with serious ailments or disabilities that prevent them from performing the service and the prisoners of war from joining the military service.
Single family caretakers and the incapacitated can be exempted for up to seven consecutive years from joining the training while students can wait until the end of their studies in Kuwait or abroad before they join.
Kuwait’s parliament suspended the obligatory military service in 2001 upon a suggestion by the government, and the possibility of reinstating it has been a controversial issue since then.
In April 2012, media reported that the draft law on mandatory national military service would be “soon” submitted by the government to the parliament for a final decision.
The bill stated that the purpose of the military service was to encourage Kuwaitis to help meet the requirements of the defence ministry for more people to defend the country against possible threats.
However, in October, media reported the country was likely not to heed calls by MPs to reinstate the mandatory military service amid concerns about logistics and costs.
Military commanders were quoted as claiming that the service would be “too onerous” and would make heavy logistical demands on the army to accommodate the high number of Kuwaiti young men who would be drafted.
The insufficiency of adequately-equipped training grounds was also cited to explain the reluctance to reinstate the mandatory military service.