Lebanon News

March 14 should agree new electoral law before talks: MP

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea attends a March 14 meeting in Maarab, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (The Daily Star/Aldo Ayoub, HO)

BEIRUT: Future Movement MP Amin Wehbi said Saturday the March 14 coalition should agree on a unified electoral proposal before resuming discussions with rival lawmakers.

“March 14 leaders should agree on a unified vision and an option that suits everyone before going to the subcommittee meeting,” Wehbi told Free Lebanon Radio Station.

Divisions among members of the opposition group have surfaced in recent weeks after the majority of Christian parties within the March 14 coalition supported the Orthodox Gathering proposal that calls on each sect to elect its own lawmakers.

The Future Movement, along with some March 14 Christian figures oppose the proposal, arguing that it would deepen the sectarian divide in the country and allow for the rise of extremists.

The Christian MPs also claim that the law would highlight the disparity in the number of Christians and Muslims and in turn serve a blow to the idea of partnership in government.

MP Walid Jumblatt and President Michel Sleiman have also voiced their opposition to the law that deals with Lebanon as one single district based on proportional representation.

In his chat with the local station, Wehbi said March 14 parties have the ability to “manage their differences just as they have done with their shared ideas.”

“The dispute [over the electoral law] that doesn’t look to be solves anytime soon is a deep one and so we need calm dialogue to discuss the electoral law,” Wehbi added.

The Lebanese Forces, which has insisted on its backing for the Orthodox Law, says it will continue to honor its alliance with the Future Movement despite differences over the electoral law.

“The bloc highlights the solidity of the March 14 alliance that continues to represent a patriotic orientation based on the historical act of the Lebanese people in 2005 for the sake of freedom, sovereignty and independence,” the LF parliamentary bloc said in a statement Friday.

“Thus, and regardless of differences over the electoral law, the Lebanese Forces adheres to its solid alliance with sovereign groups, with the Future Movement in the forefront,” it added.

The Head of the Future parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Siniora said Friday his party was willing to look into a law that combines proportionality with a winner-takes-all system.

His remarks came after talks with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

The proposal, however, was rejected by Hezbollah and its allies in the March 8 alliance who have said that there were fundamental issues with regards to districting in the proposal.





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