The promised election of a new parliment in postwar Kuwait will likely be held later rather than sooner. Much later, perhaps not until September 1992, a government official said Tuesday.

Abdulrahman Al-Wadi, minister of state for Cabinet affairs, who just weeks ago said that an election would be held within six to 12 months, gave a prolonged explanation as to why up to 18 months might be needed.Al-Wadi's appearance at a news conference came a day after Kuwait's emir, Jaber Al-Sabah, said in a nationally broadcast address that an election would be held sometime next year.

"God willing," said Al-Sabah. He replaced the old law-making parliment with an advisory national council in 1986. In the process, he suspended the 1962 Constitution.

In his speech, Al-Sabah also said he would study the possibility of giving women the right to vote and extending that privilege to naturalized Kuwaiti citizens.

Al-Wadi said Tuesday that a decision on those possible democratic reforms may not be made until after the new parliment is elected, whenever that might be.

Addressing mostly Western reporters, Al-Wadi said, "as you know," in this country voter registration is normally done in February.

He said there could be no registration this year due to the Iraqi occupation, which means the process won't be held until Febraury 1992. Then, he said, there is normally two months to allow people to file challenges.

"That takes us to April or May," Al-Wadi said. "Sometime after that the election will be held."

A reporter asked: "When?"

"I don't think it will be more than two or three months," the minister said.

"July or August?" the reporter asked.

Al-Wadi replied, "August or September."

Pro-democracy groups have accused the government of backpedaling on its promise and have said the election should be held within six months, perhaps sooner.

Ahmed Al-Saadoun, a former speaker of the parliment, said Tuesday he was disappointed by the emir's speech. "I was expecting something better, something straight forward."