Lebanon News

Sleiman and Aoun in virtual spat

BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman defended over the weekend his election as a consensual head of state and slammed Free Patriotic Movement head MP Michel Aoun as constantly coveting the highest post in the country.

“At least a consensual president does not beg for the presidency. On the contrary, everyone asks him to accept the post of president,” Sleiman said in a Twitter and Facebook post.

The statement came hours after Aoun held a live question-and-answer session on his party’s Facebook page in which he said the future head of the Lebanese republic should command a parliamentary bloc rather than “beg at [the door of] some ministers.”

“The experience [with Sleiman] does not encourage the acceptance of another consensual president and rather than the president beg at [the door of] some ministers, he should have a parliamentary bloc that makes a difference and ministers that represent it,” Aoun said.

Critics of Aoun in the March 14 coalition insist the FPM leader’s political choices since his return from exile in France, including his alliance with Hezbollah, have all been geared toward securing him the top post in the country.

Asked whether his party would endorse an electoral law based on proportional representation in the upcoming elections, Aoun said the FPM would back it if it treated the country as one electoral district.

Lebanon’s current electoral law is a winner-take-all system and in the previous elections the country adopted the 1960 law which adopts the qada as an electoral district.

Aoun also opposed a draft electoral law put forth last year by the Orthodox Gathering that calls for each sect to elect its own lawmakers based on proportional representation during the 2013 polls.

“We would not be satisfied with a law that does not allow a Lebanese to vote for another Lebanese to represent them,” Aoun said.

The Maronite Church has described the Orthodox Gathering proposal as “a valid formula to achieve just and effective representation.”

In February, reports indicated that the Bkirki committee, tasked with drafting a law of its own, was moving toward agreement on a return to the 1960 election law given the failure of the Orthodox plan to gain traction.

Sleiman backs an electoral law based on proportional representation and has voiced his rejection of a return to the 1960 law.

Despite the insistence on the part of Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and the March 8 coalition on adopting proportional representation, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and MP Walid Jumblatt reject such an electoral law.





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