BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri warned in remarks published Monday that the upcoming general elections would not be held under the 1960 law that was used in the country’s previous parliamentary polls.
“There will be no elections under the 1960 [electoral] law,” Berri told the local daily As-Safir.
“Those who believe wasting time and procrastination will lead to holding of the elections based on the 1960 law are wrong and unaware of constitutional and legal facts surrounding this matter,” he added.
He reiterated that the 1960 law – a qada-based, winner-takes-all system – has been rejected by President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Amal Movement, Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement, all of whom are represented in the Cabinet.
“For that reason we have to intensify our efforts to agree on a new electoral law,” Berri said.
Meanwhile, the Kataeb Party joined the Lebanese Forces’ decision to attend this week’s meeting of the joint parliamentary committees on a new electoral law.
“The Kataeb will not back down on its stance whether the Cabinet attended [the joint committee meetings] or not,” Kataeb deputy leader Sejaan Azzi told Al-Akhbar newspaper in remarks published Monday.
Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan said Sunday that his party would attend the committees’ meeting even if Cabinet ministers participated in the discussions.
“The LF will participate in the committees’ meeting,” Adwan told MTV Sunday night.
The decision by the two Christian March 14 parties came as the Future Movement, which heads the opposition group, said it would not attend the parliamentary meetings because of its boycott of Cabinet.
On Sunday, Future parliamentary bloc leader MP Fouad Siniora told The Daily Star the Future Movement would adhere to its boycott of government work, including at the level of the joint parliamentary committees.
“The Future bloc will participate in the joint committees’ meetings if Cabinet representatives do not attend. But if Cabinet ministers attend, the Future bloc will not participate,” former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told The Daily Star Sunday.
Adwan said Sunday there was clear backing for the Orthodox Gathering proposal, which has been rejected by the Future Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party, independent Christian political figures as well as Mikati and Sleiman.
“There is a draft law that has gained majority [support],” Adwan, in a clear reference to the Orthodox proposal, said.
In his comments to Al-Akhbar, Azzi said his party would back the Orthodox Gathering law given the consensus among Christian political parties.
“The Kataeb will not alter its position in light of the continuing rejection of the 1960 law and after going a long way in discussions and reaching a majority backing of the Orthodox Gathering law,” Azzi said.
The Orthodox Gathering proposal projects Lebanon as a single district in which individual sects vote for their respective members of Parliament under a system of proportional representation.
Siniora’s comments Sunday on the Future Movement’s stance on the parliamentary meeting cast gloom over the outcome of the lawmakers’ talks, only five months ahead of parliamentary elections.
The Sidon MP also said the Future Movement would unveil this week a comprehensive draft electoral law designed to address the Christians’ concerns, in the latest attempt to break the deadlock over which proposal best guarantees fair representation for all sects.
The Progressive Socialist Party, for its part, reiterated its opposition to the Orthodox Gathering proposal and said it would support an amended version of the 1960 law.
“The Orthodox Gathering was rejected by a large section of the Lebanese,” PSP Minister Alaa Terro said in remarks published Monday.
“The 1960 law is still in place ... and in the event of an ongoing dispute over a new election law then the polls would be better to take place under the 1960 law after introducing some amendments to it,” he told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah.