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Mikati defends government’s electoral proposal for upcoming polls
Prime Minister Najib Mikati heads a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, March 21, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
Prime Minister Najib Mikati heads a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, March 21, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati defended in comments Saturday the Cabinet-endorsed draft electoral law based proportional representation with Lebanon divided into 13 electoral districts and said ministers were free to amend it as necessary in Parliament.

“The government worked hard on the medium-sized [electoral districts ... If Parliament chooses to reconsider it then it is within its rights to do so using the means it deems appropriate,” Mikati told As-Safir newspaper while in New York.

Last month Cabinet approved a draft electoral law that if passed by Parliament would divide the country into 13 medium-sized districts with a system of proportional representation.

The subject of which electoral to adopt for the 2013 elections has taken central stage in recent days, with several proposals being put forward by various parties.

A proposal for small electoral districts unveiled this week by Christian March 14 parties sparked nationwide controversy, with March 8 parties and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt rejecting it.

Lebanon’s Maronite Church called Friday for a new election law that ensures a true and fair Christian representation in next year’s parliamentary polls, while rejecting the current law – the 1960 law – that is based on a winner-takes-all system.

Future parliamentary bloc leader MP Fouad Siniora told As-Safir that his group had no objections to small electoral districts.

“Given that we are keen on obstacles being removed and that the solution to them not come through different ones and given our backing of the Taif Accord ... and in order to make a [positive] step toward Christians in Lebanon, we have no objections that small districts be used,” he said.

“The number and form of these districts require however long discussions for there could be 50 districts, there could be 40 or 42 or 38. What’s important is that we are still at the beginning of the road,” he added.

Mikati is due to return to Lebanon Saturday following his participation at the United Nations in New York.

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