Lebanon News

MPs to speed up discussion on electoral proposals

Lebanon Parliament Joint Committees

BEIRUT: Joint parliamentary committees said Thursday they would intensify efforts to forward proposed draft election laws to the legislature ahead for the 2013 elections.

Speaking to reporters following the end of the session, head of the joint parliamentary committees MP Farid Makari said lawmakers agreed to convene sessions twice a week in a bid to finalize talks on the draft election laws at hand.

“An agreement has been reached to hold sessions for the joint committees twice a week," Makari said, adding that the upcoming session would be held Tuesday at 11 a.m.

He rejected some politicians’ suggestions to set a deadline for discussion to give sufficient time for the Interior Ministry to prepare for the elections based on a new law.

“We cannot place a deadline but we can intensify our efforts. We suggested that talks should be finalized by the end of the year,” Makari said.

During the session, the second to be held this month, lawmakers did not delve into the specifics of any of the four draft election laws but held a general discussion on the type of system best suited for Lebanon’s makeup, namely either a winner-takes-all or proportional representation system.

In August, Cabinet endorsed a draft electoral that divides Lebanon into 13 districts and is based on a proportional representation system.

The Free Patriotic Movement has also put forward a proposal which would see every sect electing its own MPs in a system that also incorporates proportional representation.

Future Movement MP Nabil De Freij’s draft law proposes an increase in the number of seats in Parliament for minority groups.

The March 14 coalition forwarded Thursday its own electoral proposal to Parliament’s general secretariat. The draft law divides Lebanon into 50 small-sized constituencies based on a winner-takes-all system.

The opposition’s proposal has not been added to the committee's agenda yet.

Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel voiced fear that the committees would fail to finalize discussion on the proposals and that the 2013 elections would go by the 1960s law, adopted during the previous round of voting. The 1960 law adopts the qada as an electoral district in a winner-takes-all system.

"We fear we might reach a point when discussions on electoral draft laws might prolong and force the Interior Minister to announce that he is forced to hold the polls with the current law,” he told reporters.

“So we suggested having a time limit to refer the draft law and put it up for a vote [in Parliament],” Gemayel added.

The session witnessed a heated debate between March 14 MP Marwan Hamadeh and Loyalty to the Resistance MP Ali Ammar over the issue of Hezbollah’s arsenal.

Hamadeh rejected an electoral system based on proportional representation in the presence of Hezbollah’s weapons. Ammar responded by stating that previous elections had gone ahead despite the persistence of the resistance’s weapons.





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