Lebanon News

PM: Orthodox law could plunge Lebanon into abyss

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, arrives to attend a Cabinet session at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati reiterated in remarks published Tuesday his reservations over an electoral proposal put forward by the Orthodox Gathering and Maronite Church which has gained the support of the country’s rival Christian parties.

“The Orthodox proposal widens divisions between the Lebanese and threatens the balance set by the Taif [Accord],” said Mikati, who spoke to As-Safir newspaper.

Mikati also voiced concern that the Orthodox Gathering proposal, which calls for dividing Lebanon into a single district and allows each sect to elect its own MPs under a proportional representation system, would lead the country to the unknown.

“The Orthodox Proposal is like a banana peel, one that could slide the country into the abyss,” he told the daily.

“Are the supporters of the Orthodox proposal aware of its risks and repercussions? Do they know that the proposal is just an indirect way of measuring the number of voters in the country and the representation of different sects?” asked the prime minister.

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

Mikati also criticized Energy and Water Minister Gibran Bassil, without naming him, accusing him of being duplicitous, endorsing the Cabinet’s electoral draft law and in public avowing the Orthodox Gathering law.

“I don’t understand the duplicity of some [officials] in dealing with the Cabinet’s electoral proposal. They act as if they forgot they were the first to agree on the proposal while it was being examined,” said Mikati.

Also hinting at Bassil, Mikati expressed surprise that “some have mobilized themselves to defend the Orthodox proposal at a time when they should be defending the government's draft law.”

The prime minister also hailed the stances of President Michel Sleiman, who has voiced opposition to the Orthodox proposal and described it as “unconstitutional.”

“The president is acting out of commitment to preserve the country’s Constitution and national unity,” he said.

Sleiman, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, Mp Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party, and independent Christian figures oppose the Orthodox proposal, arguing it will enhance sectarian divisions in the country.





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