Mar 21 2010
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Kuwait: MPs oppose deal for French Rafale
The written statement did not say why the deal was deemed suspicious, and there has been no official word that Kuwait was reconsidering the purchase.
KUWAIT CITY, March 21: An Islamist parliamentary bloc in Kuwait on Sunday warned the government against the planned purchase of French-made Rafale warplanes, saying the deal was "suspicious."
"The bloc reiterates its firm rejection of this suspicious deal, especially following information that the latest technical reports have recommended the rejection of the deal," said a statement by the Reform and Development Bloc.
But last November some opposition MPs had claimed the proposed contract was over-inflated. A technical defence ministry team has been assessing the deal, but its findings have not been publicised.
"We warn the government against squandering public funds on suspicious deals," said the bloc's spokesman, MP Waleed al-Tabtabai.
The political grouping comprises four Islamist MPs who have been campaigning against several proposed arms deals, especially the deal for up to 28 Rafale combat aircraft.
Kuwait's parliament has 50 elected members.
The statement also said no country in the world had bought Rafales so far. Many countries have expressed interest in the multi-role combat fighter, but no deal has been finalised.
Last week, Defence Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak al-Sabah said the Rafale deal remained a priority for Kuwait.
In November, Kuwait's parliament voted unanimously to ask the independent accounting watchdog Audit Bureau to probe three planned arms deals with the United States and France that one lawmaker said were worth billions of dollars.
The deals include the planned purchase of an unspecified number of US-made Hercules transport aircraft, an ammunition factory and the Rafale fighters.
In October, Kuwait and France signed a new defence agreement and discussed details of the Rafale deal.
Sheikh Jaber said after talks in Paris that Kuwait would be "proud" to have the supersonic Rafale jet for its armed forces at some point in the future.
He said he had given the Rafale a green light and passed the matter to technical teams for detailed scrutiny.
During a Gulf tour in February 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said discussions had begun with Kuwait to sell between 14 and 28 Rafales, which are made by France's Dassault Aviation.
Al-Tabtabaei argued His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces and the father of all authorities under the Constitution; hence, the need to strictly comply with his directive on strengthening coordination between the government and Parliament.
In another parliamentary development, MP Dr Aseel Al-Awadhi has presented a proposal on the establishment of a women's sector in sports federations (unions) for individual and group games to create a competitive environment.
Al-Awadhi explained she presented the proposal to fortify the role of women's sports in developing the society, creating a highly competitive atmosphere in this growing sector to realize the dreams of girls, and recognizing the importance of sports in the development of young people of all ages regardless of gender. She added the proposal also aims to encourage women to live a healthy lifestyle through participation in sports and work with their male counterparts to improve various sectors, including sports.
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