Prime Minister Saad Hariri listens to Ministers Ali Hasan Khalil, left, and Marwan Hamadeh, right, during a Cabinet session in Beirut, Monday, March 6, 2017. (The Daily Star/Ahmad Azakir)
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Political rivals Sunday appeared to be locked in an indirect war of words over responsibility for failing to agree a new vote law ahead of a May 15 deadline to avert a new lengthy extension of Parliament's term and set the stage for elections later this year.Ali Hasan Khalil, who had represented the Amal Movement in talks on a new electoral law, did not attend the Foreign Ministry meeting at Berri's request. This apparently came after Bassil, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, was reported to have rejected Berri's latest vote law proposal. Berri who, along with MP Walid Jumblatt, has rejected Bassil's latest sectarian-based, two-stage "qualification" vote law proposal, had presented two draft laws, one for an electoral law based on complete proportionality – dividing Lebanon into 10 electoral constituencies – and another that called for the creation of a senate as stipulated by the Taif Accord.Ali Hasan Khalil's remarks came a day after Bassil staunchly rejected attempts to extend Parliament's term, stressing that a new electoral law was a matter of "life or death" for the FPM.
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