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Lebanon News

Mikati voices own reservations on Orthodox plan

Journalist Marcel Ghanem, right, interviews Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, March 29, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati voiced in remarks published Wednesday concerns that the Orthodox electoral proposal would eliminate equal power sharing between Muslims and Christians in the country and open the way for a tripartite system.

“The Orthodox [Gathering] law might pave way for some parties to call for a tripartite system in the future, which could negatively affect Christians,” Mikati, who spoke to An-Nahar newspaper, said.

The Orthodox Gathering proposal, which has been backed by Lebanon’s rival Christian parties, advocates that each sect elects its own lawmakers. It is based on a system of proportional representation with Lebanon as one electoral district.

The prime minister said such a formula would damage Muslim-Christian partnership in the country.

Mikati, whose government has endorsed an electoral draft law based on proportional representation with Lebanon divided into 13 electoral districts, said that lawmakers should agree on a law that guarantees fair representation for all Lebanese sects and factions.

His comments came a day after President Michel Sleiman said the Orthodox proposal violates the country’s Constitution.

Deputy Parliament Speaker MP Farid Makari, who also spoke to An-Nahar, criticized the Orthodox proposal put forward by the Maronite Church, describing it as unconstitutional.

“Besides being unconstitutional and illegal, the Orthodox law tears apart the social fabric of the Lebanese people,” Makari said.

He also argued that consensus by the major Christian parties on the Orthodox law did not mean all Christians agreed to it.

“Everyone knows that the majority of Christians are independents and cannot be limited to four parties,” Makari said.

The parties backing the law are the Lebanese Forces, Kataeb Party, Free Patriotic Movement and Marada movement. Agreement on the law came during a meeting chaired by Cardinal Beshara Rai at Bkirki Sunday.

The proposal has also faced severe criticism from former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement and MP Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party.

 

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