BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman met Monday with the head of the Future Parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Siniora over the electoral law impasse.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said lawmakers could approve a new electoral if Speaker Nabih Berri’s efforts produce tangible results.
According to Sleiman's office, the two discussed electoral proposals and "stressed the importance of reaching a modern electoral law that allows for political diversity and reflects the spirit of the constitution."
The meeting at Baabda Palace comes after Siniora said Sunday Future lawmakers would not attend a meeting by the joint parliamentary committees called for by the speaker to discuss the adoption of a new electoral law.
The decision is in line with the Future Movement’s boycott of the government. Ministers of Mikati’s Cabinet will attend the session.
Speaking to reporters at his Sidon residence, Siniora said the party would this week unveil a comprehensive electoral proposal designed to address the concerns of Christians after rival lawmakers failed to agree on a unified system vote.
Although the March 14 coalition has unanimously made the decision to boycott the Cabinet, Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb said they would attend the committee meeting.
A subcommittee meeting comprised of the country's main political groups failed to reach a unified stance on a single proposal as each party remained adamant on its stance with regards to the proposals on hand.
Future Movement along with Sleiman, Mikati and some opposition Christian figures have voiced opposition to the controversial electoral proposal by the Orthodox Gathering which has received the assent of majority of Christian parties, backed by Hezbollah.
MP Walid Jumblatt has also rejected the law, which has each sect elect its own MPS and is based on proportional representation.
Speaking to members of Lebanon’s diplomatic corps at the Grand Serail, Mikati said: “If things go the way they are now with regards to parliamentary discussion and efforts by Speaker Nabih Berri are fruitful then a new law for the parliamentary elections could be reached.”
He added that lawmakers agree on a basic principle in these discussions – a rejection of the 1960 law used in the 2009 polls.
He reiterated that elections scheduled in June will be held on time and that no party seeks to delay the polls.
Berri has proposed a hybrid law combining both proportionality with a winner-takes-all system in a bid to find common ground among the rival groups.
Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel reiterated that the party will attend the joint committee meeting scheduled for Jan. 30, saying time is running out.
“We actively participated in the subcommittee meetings and it is only normal that we return to the joint committee after finalizing work in the subcommittee,” Gemayel said during a news conference.
“There is a law with small districts, a hybrid one, and the Orthodox Gathering proposal and whichever one receives a majority consensus will be put up for a vote on in the general committee of Parliament,” he added.
Gemayel, who has repeatedly warned that lawmakers are in a race against time, said parties only have one month left to adopt a new law.
“Elections are in four months and we can't waste time anymore,” he added.
Earlier Monday, MPs with the March 8 coalition held a meeting at Parliament to discuss the electoral law with Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan, urging politicians of all parties to attend Wednesday’s session.
"The meeting today was aimed at coordinating stances between the parliamentary blocs that represent the majority particularly the Change and Reform, Development and Liberation, Loyalty to the Resistance, Tashnaq and Marada Movement,” Kanaan said.
"We call and hope of our colleagues in all blocs to attend the joint committees meeting because the issue is strategic and national and not a partisan one. It doesn't concern either March 8 or 14,” he added.