Lebanon News

Harb says Hezbollah opposes expat vote

Lebanon Parliament

BEIRUT: Hezbollah opposes the right of expatriates to vote because the party would not be allowed to campaign in some countries which consider the resistance a terrorist organization, March 14 MP Butros Harb said Thursday.

“Deliberations by Hezbollah, some of its allies and the foreign affairs minister today proved that this group is not excited about the vote by Lebanese expatriates because they believe that some countries would not allow them to launch a media election campaign,” Harb said in a statement.

“Because in these countries, they are not allowed to enter and are considered to belong to military organizations deemed as terrorist,” he added.

Harb’s comments followed the end of another round of discussion within the joint parliamentary committees tasked with studying a new election law based on several draft proposals.

The March 14 lawmaker also described Hezbollah’s stance as “a flagrant violation of the right of Lebanese citizens to participate in political life and decision-making related to Lebanon.”

“That is rejected ... and we cannot remain silent about it or accept it,” Harb said.

In late April, Lebanon’s Cabinet approved a mechanism for Lebanese expatriates to cast their ballot in the 2013 parliamentary elections.

Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour, who Harb accused of neglect in implementing the mechanism, has spoken of a low number of registered voters, which is no more than 5,000.

During his trip to Peru earlier this week, President Michel Sleiman urged Lebanese abroad to register to vote in embassies via the mechanism proposed by the Foreign Ministry; however, necessary funds still require approval before the mechanism can be implemented.

In his statement, Harb said: “We ask the March 8 group to explain its position with regards to the right of Lebanese living abroad in the upcoming parliamentary elections.”

He also called for the government to be held accountable for the measures taken to accommodate the 2013 polls with regards to expatriates.

During the joint committees’ session Thursday in Parliament, lawmakers from across Lebanon’s political spectrum agreed to form a subcommittee to discuss the type of system to be adopted and the size as well as the number of constituencies.

But parliamentarians said they needed time to name representatives from each party to join the subcommittee.

The joint committees are studying three main draft laws: the government’s draft law which divides Lebanon into 13 medium-sized districts based on proportional representation; a proposal presented by the March 14 Christian parties that would divide Lebanon into 50 small districts under a winner-takes-all-system, and the law of MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc, whereby every sect elects its own MPs, under a proportional representation system with the adoption of Lebanon as a single district. That law is similar to a draft law proposed by the Orthodox Gathering.

Lebanon’s rival political party are in disagreement over which election law would provide the most equal and fair representation, particularly for Christians.





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