BEIRUT: Lebanon’s rival Christian parties agreed to prioritize the Orthodox Gathering draft law for the coming 2013 parliamentary elections, a source from the Kataeb Movement told The Daily Star Monday.
“Christian parties agreed to give priority and voice support for the Orthodox Gathering law during the meetings of the subcommittee discussing elections’ law,” said the source, which spoke on condition of anonymity.
The decision comes after an expanded meeting between the country’s four main Christian parties was held in Bkirki Sunday to address the electoral law and seek approval for the suggestion put forward by the Maronite Church which advocates that each sect elects its own lawmakers.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, the Kataeb Party and the Marada Movement.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea voiced Monday rejection of the 1960 law and said his party supports the Orthodox Gathering law, provided that the FPM gets approval from its allies on endorsing it.
“The FPM said it was able to secure his allies’ approval of the Orthodox Gathering law. We hope what it declared is real,” said Geagea.
Geagea said that the LF has always supported the Orthodox Gathering proposal, arguing that it secures the best representation for Christians despite disagreements on it.
According to the LF leader, alternatives for the Orthodox gathering were sought when it was opposed by other political groups.
“That’s when we went for supporting the small electoral districts law after the Future Movement agreed on it,” said Geagea.
Geagea also addressed House Speaker Nabih Berri, reminding him that he once said his Amal Movement will support any electoral law agreed on by Christians.
“Berri used to always say let the Christians agree on an electoral law and we are with them. Well, we just agreed on one,” said Geagea.
Also on Monday, Cardinal Beshara Rai urged members of the parliamentary subcommittee to agree on a new law for the coming 2013 elections.
“I hope you work hard to issue a new law for the elections because the 1960 law marginalizes a large number of Lebanese,” said Rai.
Rai’s remarks came as the parliamentary subcommittee is set to resume Tuesday meetings over a new law for the elections.
“We want a law that ensures the right representation of lawmakers, a law that makes everyone feel there is real partnership in the country,” said Rai.
The cardinal has repeatedly voiced rejection of the 1960 law, arguing that the winner-takes-all system used in the 2009 parliamentary elections would threaten Lebanon’s sectarian coexistence and diversity.
Rai who advocates the Orthodox Gathering suggestion says such law would ease concerns about the representation of Christians
However, civil society has criticized this law saying it would encourage sectarianism in an already much-divided country.