Lebanon News

Suspension of electoral deadlines unconstitutional: Jumblatt

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt leaves the Parliament in Beirut, Tuesday, July 5, 2011. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said in remarks published Thursday that suspending the electoral deadlines by Parliament was “unconstitutional.”

“The concept of suspending deadlines is unconstitutional because the 1960 law is still in effect,” Jumblatt, who spoke to As-Safir newspaper said, referring to the elections law used in the 2009 polls.

Parliament approved Wednesday a draft law to suspend deadlines applicable under the 1960 electoral law until May 19.

President Michel Sleiman has said that he will sign the draft law passed by Parliament, creating time for agreement to be reached on a new law adopting proportional representation.

Lawmakers from Jumblatt’s PSP did not attend Wednesday’s Parliament session, which was held two days after extensive meetings by Parliament’s secretariat.

The PSP argues that a suspension of deadlines would annul the 1960 law without an alternative to replace it.

“The National Struggle Front boycotted [Wednesday’s] parliamentary session to preserve constitutional principles,” said Jumblatt.

He also warned that the Parliament decision could pave the way for the extension of the term of the 128-member body or the ratification of the controversial Orthodox Gathering electoral law.

“The most important thing for me is the preserve the relationship with [Speaker] Nabih Berri, whether we have the similar or different views,” he added.

During the session Wednesday, Berri said the passing of the draft law would provide time for him “to achieve consensus on an electoral law.”

The speaker assured lawmakers that suspending the deadlines was not a move to annul the law or extend Parliament’s term, which expires on June 20.

In separate remarks published by An-Nahar newspaper, Jumblatt also criticized the Future Movement’s approval in Parliament of suspending the electoral deadlines.

“The mistake of those who pretend to be clever is worth a thousand mistakes,” said Jumblatt, commenting on the Future Movement stance over the recent Parliament decision.

In remarks later to Al-Jadeed television Thursday, Future bloc MP Ahmad Fatfat downplayed the importance of the dispute with Jumblatt and described it as a “minor” one.

“We consider Jumblatt an ally and the dispute yesterday was very minor,” said Fatfat.





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