BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Sleiman warned Friday against “unconstitutional” electoral proposals that cause further sectarian divisions in the country, a statement from the president’s press office said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that if Parliament fails to reach decision over a new electoral law, the Cabinet will have to call for the elections based on the current version of the 1960 law.
“We should stay away from electoral proposals that go against the constitution and which enhance sectarian divisions and harm co-existence in the country,” the president said, following renewed support from Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun to the Orthodox proposal.
In remarks to al-Akhbar newspaper published Friday, Aoun said that the 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 Orthodox 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 is 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.
For his part, Mikati reiterated backing to an electoral proposal referred by the Cabinet to Parliament last year, however said if Parliament fails to agree on a new law, the Cabinet will have to call for elections based on the 1960 law.
“Up to the moment, I don’t have any legal opinion that would allow me to dismiss the 1960 law,” said Mikati. “There are political opinions against the 1960 law, but a political opinion is different from a legal one that would obligate the Cabinet to fulfill its duties in holding the elections on time.”
“I call on the Parliament to convene and take the appropriate decision, because if it doesn’t, the Cabinet is obligated to implement the law in power,” he added.
The Cabinet’s electoral bill, which is based on proportional representation and divides Lebanon into 13-medium-sized districts, was endorsed by the government in September 2012.
Meanwhile, President Sleiman also expressed hope that the parliamentary subcommittee, discussing electoral proposals, “succeeds in reaching a new draft law that secures fair representation to all Lebanese groups for the coming polls.”
The subcommittee, which resumed talks Friday afternoon, is currently discussing different formulas of the hybrid law which joins both proportional representation and a winner-takes-all system.
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.
However, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said in remarks published earlier in the day that the subcommittee meeting could be extended until Saturday.