Lebanon News

Constitutional Council: No basis for Jumblatt bloc’s challenge

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

BEIRUT: Head of the Constitutional Council Issam Sleiman said Monday a challenge put forward by the National Struggle Front over suspending electoral deadlines until May 19 had no basis.

“Following consultations, the council found that there was no justification to halt the law [which suspends electoral deadlines], especially given that the council is restricted to a period of one month in order to issue its decision,” said Sleiman.

Earlier this month President Michel Sleiman signed a draft law approved by Parliament suspending the deadline for submitting candidatures for the parliamentary polls until May 19. Lawmakers from Jumblatt’s PSP had boycotted the Parliament session.

The challenge to the suspension of candidacies was submitted Friday by the eight-member National Struggle Front, Deputy Speaker Farid Makari and MPs Ahmad Karami and Marwan Hamade.

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

According to Sleiman, in the event the challenge put forward by MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc is approved by the council, its decision would be effective once published in the Official Gazette.

“If such a law is annulled, this would mean that those who submitted their candidacies earlier within the legal deadline set by the Interior Ministry would win uncontested if they did not have any rivals competing against them,” he said.

Several applications had been submitted to the Interior Ministry from independent figures and PSP representatives. However, other major blocs have refrained from submitting candidatures under the “1960 law.”

In remarks to An-Nahar newspaper published Monday, Sleiman said that the body would appoint a rapporteur to draft a report concerning the challenge put forward by Jumblatt’s bloc.

“We will appoint a rapporteur [today] from one of the council’s members to submit a report [over the challenge] in no more than 10 days,” said Sleiman.

Sleiman said the council would meet in the next couple of days to discuss the challenge submitted by Jumblatt’s bloc, adding that the deadline for issuing a decision on the matter is May 26.





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