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Harb says March 14 to propose its own electoral draft law

MP Butros Harb speaks during a press conference in Hazmieh, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: March 14 MP Butros Harb said Wednesday that the opposition coalition will propose its own electoral draft law, adding that deliberations are under way with MP Walid Jumblatt in this regard.

“After negotiations with our allies in March 14, mainly the Future Movement which already supports a law based on small districts ... we agreed on the formula that we will propose [to Parliament],” Harb told reporters at his Hazmieh residence.

His remarks came after meeting with EU Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst.

Harb noted that the March 14 coalition would give negotiations with former ally MP Walid Jumblatt a chance, saying: “Deliberations are under way with him to agree on a formula that unites us.”

Jumblatt, along with head of the Future Movement former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, rejected a draft law based on proportional representation formulated by the Cabinet earlier this year. The Cabinet’s proposal divides Lebanon into 13 medium-sized districts. Hariri has vowed to block the bill in Parliament.

Harb said the March 14 proposal divides Lebanon into 50 small districts with three parliamentarians for each, and described it as wholly reforming the electoral process.

“It is comprehensive and includes 100 articles, a voting mechanism, pre-printed ballots, it ensures the right of expatriate voting and the means to protect the electoral process by forming an independent committee to oversee the elections,” Harb said.

“This draft law preserves [Lebanon's] unity, national assimilation, coexistence and [proper] representation,” he added.

The Cabinet’s proposal and the new one proffered by March 14 are not the only options on the table. Two MPs from Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc forwarded to Parliament earlier this month a draft election law by which every sect elects its own MPs in a system that also incorporates proportional representation.

That proposal is similar to a draft law prepared by the Orthodox Gathering and rejected by predominantly Muslim parties.

Harb maintained that the March 14 proposal is in line with the preferences of the Bkirki Committee, tasked by the Maronite Church with drafting a law that best guarantees proper Christian representation in Parliament.

However, Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement maintains that the Bkirki Committee did not agree on one final proposal.

 

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