Lebanon News

Parliament subcommittee to tackle rival electoral law proposals

A general view of the Lebanese Parliament in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, April 17, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Parliament’s ordinary term kicks off Tuesday with Speaker Nabih Berri chairing a session to elect members of parliamentary committees and Parliament’s secretariat.

Once the session is over, a parliamentary subcommittee formed to study two controversial items in the Cabinet’s draft election law will hold its first meeting.

MPs from rival blocs said Monday that all members of parliamentary committees are likely to be re-elected to the same posts.

Lebanese Forces MP Fadi Karam is expected to replace late MP Farid Habib, who was a member of Parliament’s Economy, Trade, Industry and Oil Committee, along with the Environment Committee.

The parliamentary subcommittee, which was formed by Parliament’s joint committees last week and has representatives from all blocs, will meet following the session. It will study items related to the type of electoral system and the size of districts.

The government’s draft law would divide the country into 13 medium-sized districts under a proportional representation system.

The March 14 coalition argues that the draft law was designed to serve the interests of Hezbollah, and Christian groups from the opposition have presented a draft law that would divide the country into 50 small districts under a winner-takes all system, arguing that it provides fair representation.

For its part, the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc of Michel Aoun has presented a draft law under which every sect would be able to elect its own MPs with the adoption of proportional representation and the entirety of Lebanon as a single district.

The subcommittee will in the next three weeks be contacting heads of parliamentary blocs to reach a consensus proposal over the two controversial items.

Future Movement MP Serge Torsarkissian, a member of the subcommittee, said that his group would try to garner support from the March 8 coalition for the draft law presented by the Christian parties of the opposition.

“We have to try, and at the end this is a discussion ... in which every group will express its ideas and concerns, let them convince us [of their draft law],” Torsarkissian told The Daily Star.

“If we do not reach a final result ... it is not a problem ... at the end, the final say is for Parliament’s General Assembly,” he added.

MP Alain Aoun, from the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc and a member of the subcommittee, said he expects nothing from Tuesday’s meeting. “[Efforts to reach a] settlement are immature still; you need to achieve a breakthrough in the draft election law [talks],” Aoun said.

Separately, a source close to Berri said that the speaker is expected to approve the minutes of the previous legislative session during Tuesday’s meeting, a move essential for the 23 draft laws endorsed to become laws.

Among the 23 draft laws is one making contract workers at Electricite du Liban full-time employees, a move opposed by the Future Movement.

The source said that all groups have agreed on approving the minutes at the beginning of Tuesday’s session.

But Future MP Khaled Zahraman said the bloc still opposes the draft law.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 16, 2012, on page 3.




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