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Lebanon News

Berri says no deadline to reach consensus on electoral law

From left, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and MP Robert Ghanem attend a session at the Parliament in Beirut, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri denied that he has set a deadline for rival political parties to reach a consensus on an electoral draft law before calling for a vote on the Orthodox Gathering law in Parliament, in remarks published Friday.

“I haven’t talked about that, nor did I set a weeklong or a two-week deadline, not even 70 days to call for a [Parliament] General Assembly [session],” Berri told An-Nahar daily.

Following a meeting earlier this week with the speaker, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun said that Berri had given lawmakers a week to come up with a new consensual electoral draft law, warning that if no agreement was reached among rival politicians, the general elections would be held based on the recently endorsed Orthodox Gathering law.

Lawmakers in joint parliamentary committees approved Tuesday the controversial Orthodox law, which projects Lebanon as a single district where each sect elects its own representatives in Parliament under a system of proportional representation.

In his remarks to An-Nahar, Berri said that the door is still open for politicians to hold the consultations needed for a possible agreement on a consensual law for the coming 2013 parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on June 9.

He added that the extensive meetings with political figures he has been holding this week are part of the ongoing efforts to reach such law.

“The meeting comes as part of attempts to reach consensus,” Berri said.

The approval of the Orthodox law by the joint committees has sparked the criticism of groups who oppose it, mainly the Future Movement, Progressive Socialist Party, the prime minister, the president and independent Christian politicians.

President Michel Sleiman has also said that he will challenge such a law if approved in Parliament.

 

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