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Kuwait PM survives no-confidence vote

Kuwait's embattled prime minister survived a no-confidence motion in parliament Wednesday after opposition lawmakers failed to sway enough votes over accusations the government is trying to roll back political freedoms in one of the West's key Middle East allies.

Prime Minister Sheik Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah was backed by 25 members in the 50-seat parliament and 22 voted in favor of his dismissal, according to the state news agency KUNA. One parliament member abstained and others could not vote because they also hold government posts.

The closed-door voting capped weeks of political tensions in Kuwait, which has one of the few elected bodies in the Gulf with the power to challenge authorities and force changes in the leadership.

It's the second time in 13 months that the prime minister — a nephew of Kuwait's ruler — turned back a no-confidence challenge that would have led to political upheavals of either reorganizing the government or calling elections.

Last month, Sheik Nasser was grilled by lawmakers in a rare parliamentary questioning session called after security forces clashed with opposition deputies and their supporters at a Dec. 8 rally.

The prime minister, who took office in 2006, survived a no-confidence vote in December 2009 after allegations that public funds were misused.

After the vote, Sheik Nasser appealed for a "new era" in political cooperation. But opposition lawmakers vowed to maintain pressure on the government, including possible street protests, media reports said.