Lebanon News

Future MP voices disapproval at Bassil's two-stage voting plan

FILE - MP Ammar Houri arrives at the Parliament in Beirut, Thursday, April 3, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Future MP Ammar Houri Monday said that Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil's two-stage voting proposal would isn't in line with the Constitution and the Taif Accord and would return Lebanon "to the Civil War" stage.

"We are against the qualification stage proposed by Bassil. It will not pass," Houri said in remarks to Voice of Lebanon Radio (100.5).

He said that the debate over a new electoral law was ongoing, adding that any new vote law should be based on the Constitution and the Taif agreement.

Bassil’s electoral law calls for half of the Parliament’s 128 members to be elected under a majoritarian system and the other half under a proportional formula in different districts. The voting would be held in two rounds, the first being sectarian and the second proportional.

Voters would cast ballots in the first round in the still-standing 26 electoral districts, where voters can only select candidates from their own sect. The two candidates who get the highest voting percentage qualify for the second round, in which voters cast ballots in 10 new electoral districts based on a proportional and non-sectarian system.

Rival political groups have been seeking to reach an agreement on a new electoral law to replace the 1960 majoritarian system with several hybrid proposals, which would mix aspects of the 1960 law and a proportional one.

Parliamentary elections were originally scheduled to take place between May 21 and June 21, but political deadlock is expected to delay elections beyond June, a delay many see as an attempt to extend the Parliament’s terms for the third time.

The terms have already been extended twice, once in 2013 and again in 2014, over security concerns.

On Wednesday, President Michel Aoun suspended Parliament meetings for one month in order to prevent a new extension of its term, thus averting a fresh political deadlock for the time being.

The president had reassured the Lebanese that there would be a new vote law that would the stage for parliamentary elections in a free and democratic atmosphere.

By using his prerogative under Article 59 of the Constitution, Aoun defused a major political crisis and averted a much-feared confrontation between supporters of the three major Christian parties – the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb Party – who oppose the extension of Parliament’s mandate.

 

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