BEIRUT: Cabinet is set to convene Monday under President Michel Sleiman to discuss a controversial draft law based on proportional representation for the 2013 parliamentary elections.
Meanwhile, the Future Movement praised the government for its decision to provide security bodies with telecommunications data to track suspects in the recent attempted assassinations of March 14 figures.
Cabinet will meet at Baabda Palace to discuss an election law for the 2013 parliamentary elections proposed by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel.
The draft law is based on proportional representation and would allow expatriates to vote.
Ministerial sources told The Daily Star that Cabinet could continue discussing the draft law in a session Tuesday if it does not finish it Monday.
Cabinet will discuss an amendment to the draft law forwarded by Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour that calls for enabling expatriates to use Internet voting. This would make it easier for expatriates living far away embassies or polling centers to vote. Mansour also proposed the election of expat MPs.
Cabinet will also meet under premier Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail Thursday with 45 items on the agenda.
These include a memorandum of understanding between Lebanon and Switzerland related to a program providing financial support for families hosting Syrian refugees who are pouring into Lebanon.
Separately, head of the Future parliamentary bloc Fouad Siniora hailed the decision to provide security bodies with telecoms data.
“It seems that as of this morning, the security bodies started to be provided with the telecoms data. This isTURN TO PAGE 10FROM PAGE 1an important step and a responsible decision by the Cabinet after the president intervened,” the Sidon MP told reporters. “But, what is equally important is to have this done on a regular basis without any obstruction.”Siniora said the March 14 coalition sought only telecoms data, stressing that the information contained within the telecoms data was not similar to what is obtained through wiretapping data. He added that the data would assist security agencies in detecting “terrorist acts and attempted assassinations.”
Earlier this month, MP Butros Harb amanged to avoid an assassination attempt after two detonators were found on top of the elevator inside the Beirut building housing his office. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea escaped sniper fire at his residence in Maarab in April.
The March 14 coalition stopped attending National Dialogue sessions when the government refused to allow security bodies access to the telecoms data and after Hezbollah said it was premature to discuss a national defense strategy.
National defense strategy was scheduled to be tackled in last week’s Dialogue session, which was postponed until Aug. 16.
Since the telecoms data has been released, Siniora said the March 14 coalition would check whether Sleiman had made in progress in talks with the March 8 coalition on the topic of Dialogue and whether Hezbollah is ready to discuss its arms, which he said should be the sole topic on the table.
Meanwhile, Charbel denied an LBCI report that he approved disciplinary measures against an Internal Security Forces officer for a five-day delay in relaying requests by security bodies for telecoms data, giving the March 14 coalition enough time to launch its campaign against the Cabinet.
“This did not happen,” Charbel told The Daily Star Sunday. “And if it had, I would not tell media outlets about it.”
The March 14 coalition has said it would hold Cabinet responsible for future assassinations as it failed to provide data necessary for investigating the attacks.
Separately, Hezbollah No. 2 Sheikh Naim Qassem said his party would not respond to accusations that it was involved in assassination plots.
“We do not respond to assassination accusations because they are empty and unfounded,” Qassem said in remarks published over the weekend.
Harb has said that a Hezbollah security operative, who was ordered to take part in the investigation into the assassination attempt, refused to participate. Security sources have named Mahmoud Hayek as the official.
“Know that we don’t respond to a lot of accusations brought against us – whether assassination allegations, those regarding the party’s actions in the countries across the world or [allegations] that we are fighting in Syria,” Qassem explained.
For his part, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat, who moved to his summer residence in his hometown of Mukhtara, said he was taking the minimum security measures required to protect himself.
“I moved to Mukhtara to spend the summer. I don’t want, like others, to exaggerate news about my security and attempts against my life,” Jumblatt said in remarks published by An-Nahar Sunday. He said assassinations attempts were of serious concern.
The Druze leader said the March 14 coalition’s hinging their participation in Dialogue to telecoms data was justified. “We want to feel comfortable regarding our security,” he said.
Jumblatt said that the resumption of Dialogue requires Hezbollah saying: “We are ready to discuss.”
“The president proposed discussing ways to benefit from Hezbollah’s arms to defend Lebanon against Israel; he did not say to defend the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Jumblatt. “We support this.”
The PSP leader dismissed the idea that the Syrian regime was too busy with the crisis at home to plot assassinations and other destabilizing acts in Lebanon.
“This is untrue. The Syrian regime is present in Lebanon and is still strong as it was [in Lebanon before 2005],” he said. “There are [Lebanese] security bodies receiving orders from it,” he added.
Jumblatt’s PSP, represented by three ministers in the Cabinet, is against proportional representation. Jumblatt argues that proportional representation is aimed at curbing his political influence.
Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement, Hezbollah and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party are supportive of proportional representation while Mikati has said he would not take a position until the issue is discussed.
Once approved by Cabinet, the draft law has to be endorsed by Parliament.