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France concerned over Lebanon elections: Gemayel

French President Francois Hollande (L) speaks with Lebanon's former President Amin Gemayel during a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, on January 30, 2013. AFP PHOTO / POOL / PHILIPPE WOJAZER

BEIRUT: France is concerned about Lebanon's reputation if parliamentary elections are not held on time, former President Amin Gemayel said late Wednesday.

Gemayel, who spoke to the Kataeb-run Voice of Lebanon radio station following a meeting with Hollande in Paris, said the French leader had shown a keen interest in the developments in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s parliamentary elections are due in early June.

The head of the Kataeb party also said the ongoing dispute over an electoral law in Lebanon was not a matter for Paris to settle.

“A solution regarding the elections is not in the hands of President Hollande,” Gemayel said.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea said in remarks published Thursday the Future Movement was key to reaching a deal on a new electoral law to govern the upcoming elections.

“I don’t believe we can agree on a new law in the absence of a key component of the size of the Future Movement,” Geagea told the local daily An-Nahar.

Geagea’s comments come a day after Future parliamentary bloc MPs boycotted the joint parliamentary committees which tasked Wednesday a House panel with examining a hybrid law plan that combines proportional representation with a winner-takes-all-system.

The Future Movement and Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party have rejected any draft that is a based on proportional representation – a system which Hezbollah strongly backs.

The joint committees agreed Wednesday to extend the work of the parliamentary subcommittee for an additional 15 days after it failed in several rounds of deliberations to agree on a united vote system.

Geagea told An-Nahar that he was content with the resumption of discussions to find common ground on the election law.

“I am glad because debate over a new election law entered its final stages and precisely because we're going to resume efforts with the Future Movement and the rest of the [political] parties in the subcommittee to agree on a law,” he said.

Geagea also hailed Hariri’s efforts to facilitate the birth of a new law that secures fair representation for all.

In response to a question regarding an electoral proposal Hariri is expected to announce later Thursday, Geagea said: "The Future Movement believes in an integrated basket or multiple steps at one time, and we see that it is wise to continue to focus on a new law for the parliamentary elections.”

Meanwhile, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, who spoke to pan-Arab Al-Hayat, said that he and Hariri both agreed on opposing the Orthodox Gathering electoral proposal that has gained rare consensus among Christian political parties.

“There was consensus on rejecting the Orthodox Gathering law because it challenges the National Pact and coexistence,” Jumblatt said, referring to meeting Wednesday with Hariri in Paris.

He described the meeting as “cordial,” during which the two focused on developments in Lebanon, the Arab world as well as the Lebanese elections.

The pan-Arab newspaper also quoted Hariri as rejecting the Orthodox Gathering law, which projects Lebanon a single district in which each sect elects its own MP under a system of proportional representation.

“Both of us agreed to reject the Orthodox law,” Hariri told the daily, adding that: “We, as well as the president, and independents all agree to reject the Orthodox law.”

In their two weeks of debate, lawmakers in the subcommittee have failed to unanimously reach a decision on a new electoral system.

Speaking to reporters after the end of the House session Wednesday, LF MP George Adwan said if the subcommittee fails for a second time to agree on a new law, then Parliament would put the Orthodox Gathering proposal up for a vote.

 

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