Lebanon News

Subcommittee may extend meetings for a day: Berri

Members of the subcommittee meet to discuss the highly divisive draft electoral law.

BEIRUT: The parliamentary subcommittee discussing a hybrid electoral law might extend meetings for an additional day, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said in remarks published Friday.

Meanwhile, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun renewed support for the Orthodox proposal, slamming President Michel Sleiman’s claims that the bid put forward by the Maronite church is “unconstitutional.”

“I informed the subcommittee members that they can convene on Saturday if they fail to agree on a new law today,” said Berri, who spoke to al-Joumhouria newspaper.

The deadline for the parliamentary subcommittee to reach an agreement over an electoral formula, comprised of both March 8 and March 14 lawmakers, ends Friday.

The subcommittee is discussing different formulas of the hybrid law which joins both proportional representation and a winner-takes-all systems.

Berri voiced willingness to exert maximum efforts to allow the various political groups to reach an agreement over a new parliamentary electoral law, reiterating his support for the hybrid law as the best solution political rivals could reach.

For his part, Aoun said in remarks published Friday in al-Akhbar that the Lebanese president will not be able to dismiss the Orthodox proposal as “unconstitutional” if referred and approved in Parliament.

“I tell the president not to bother. The [electoral] law is an election system and has nothing to do with the constitution,” Aoun said.

“The law that allows 64 MPs to be elected by the votes of the Christians is the only legal and constitutional law,” he added.

The Orthidox proposal, which gained the support of the country’s four major Christians parties, projects Lebanon as a single district where each sect elects its members of parliament under a proportional representation system.

The proposal has also gained the support of Hezbollah in what it claims a bid to please Aoun, the party’s main Christian ally.

However, the president, prime minister, Future Movement, PSP and independent Christian MPs have rejected the Orthodox law, saying it enhances further sectarian divisions in the country.

In remarks to a local newspaper earlier this week, Berri warned that if the subcommittee discussing electoral proposals fails to agree on a hybrid formula within its mandated period, the only alternative would be to return to the Orthodox Gathering proposal.





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