Lebanon News

Hezbollah, Marada officials meet with Aoun in Rabieh

In this picture released by the Free Patriotic Movement media office, FPM leader Michel Aoun, right, receives secretary general of the Tachnag Party Hovik Mokhtarian, center, and Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh, left, at his residence in Rabieh, Lebanon, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. (The Daily Star, HO)

BEIRUT: Officials from Hezbollah, the Marada Movement and Tashnag met Monday at the residence of Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun for talks on the electoral law and parliamentary consultations to name a prime minister-designate.

Hezbollah officials Hajj Hussein Khalil and Hajj Wafik Safa, Marada Movement leader Sleiman Franjieh, Marada official Youssef Saade, Tashnag MP Hagop Pakradounian as well as caretaker Energy Minister Gibran Bassil were in attendance.

Metn MP Ibrahim Kanaan, a member of Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc, told The Daily Star that the meeting discussed the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for June 9, focusing mainly on the FPM’s concerns over extending the terms of Parliament and the cancellation of the upcoming polls.

“We sense that there is an attempt to extend the terms of Parliament or even worse, plunging the country into a political vacuum. This is why we insist on calling for a parliamentary session to discuss a new electoral law,” Kanaan said.

The lawmaker added that while his party wouldn’t oppose a “technical” delay for the upcoming polls, it is strongly against extending the terms of Parliament and insists on a new electoral law for June’s polls.

Kanaan said that endorsing a new electoral law is more important for his party than agreeing on who will head the new Cabinet.

“Cabinets come and go, but the electoral law is the backbone of the country’s political life. This is why we need, now more than ever, to hold a parliamentary session [to decide] on a new voting system,” he said.

Kanaan said that lawmakers from the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance have urged Speaker Nabih Berri to convene a parliamentary session to vote on the Orthodox Gathering proposal and annul the current law.

“We have asked for that repeatedly and we are still waiting,” he said.

The Orthodox Gathering draft law, which is staunchly opposed by the Future Movement, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt and independent Christian figures, stipulates that each sect elect its own MPs based on proportional representation.

Kanaan also said the consultations over the formation of a new Cabinet and naming of a new prime minister are ongoing.

“We are still discussing who could head the new Cabinet,” said Kanaan, adding that he rejected reports that the March 8 coalition has vetoed the nomination of caretaker Prime Minister Mikati to lead the new government.

“We didn’t reject Mikati, we are still undecided on the possibility of naming him,” he added.

The Cabinet resigned last month due to internal disputes, paving the way for parliamentary consultations to appoint a new prime minister.

President Michel Sleiman has set April 5 and 6 as the dates for parliamentary consultations to name a candidate for prime minister who will be tasked with forming a new government.





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