BEIRUT

Lebanon News

March 14 to resume discussion on electoral law

File photo shows left to center Future Movement MPs Ahmad Fatfat and Ammar Houri along with Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan attending a Parliamentary committee session. (The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: March 14 lawmakers decided Monday to resume discussion on a new electoral law for the 2013 polls in the absence of government officials, reiterating their rejection of the 1960 law.

“March 14 decided to resume work on the committee which emerged from the joint committees studying the type of electoral system and distribution of districts in the absence of government [officials],” MP Butros Harb told reporters.

In a news conference at his residence in Hazmieh, Harb reiterated the coalition’s rejection of the 1960 law, amended in 2008 during the Doha Accord and used in the 2009 parliamentary elections.

He added that the meeting point has not been determined yet but “we prefer it be in some lawmaker’s house."

March 14 lawmakers say they fear for their lives particularly after assassination attempts against Harb and Samir Geagea and the killing of a top security official two months ago.

Some Future Movement MPs have said they received death threats via telephone and text messages.

During the conference, Harb insisted that the decision to return to the subcommittee is in line with the March 14’s boycott of Parliament's work.

The opposition is currently boycotting Parliament’s work, including that of government ministers in a bid to pressure Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s Cabinet to resign.

The boycott meant a halt to the work of the joint committees formed earlier this year and tasked with studying several electoral proposals. A sub-committee was later created to focus on the type of electoral system and the distribution of districts; the disputed issues between rival parties.

Following the Oct. 19 car bomb that killed Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, the opposition called for the formation of a neutral government to oversee next year’s elections and announced the boycott.

They have also accused current Cabinet of providing the necessary cover for the crime and Syria’s government of being behind it.

Harb also said that a March 14 parliamentary delegation will meet Speaker Nabih Berri this week to discuss their decision and a possible location for the gathering.

“When the committee succeeds in convening, we will discuss with Berri the means to approve the law in Parliament,” the MP said.

He added that his coalition was still committed to their demand for the government to resign and their rejection of National Dialogue to discuss the formation of a new one.

“The constitution stipulates a mechanism to form a Cabinet where work should continue a caretaker government,” he said in response to the March 8 alliance’s claim that a resignation would plunge the country into paralysis.

President Michel Sleiman has called on rival parties to engage in Dialogue in order to agree on the formation of a new government but his efforts reached a dead-end when some opposition groups rejected.

“Discussing an alternative Cabinet via Dialogue is a dangerous precedence,” Harb said.

 

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