Lebanon News

Mikati says will call for elections to be held on time

Minister Nicolas Fattoush, left, and Prime Minister Najib Mikati attend a Cabinet session at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati said in remarks published Sunday that he will call for holding this year’s parliamentary elections as scheduled on June 9.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces leader Geagea warned that the failure to reach a new electoral system for the coming polls will lead to “unhappy endings,” vowing to oppose any attempt to hold the elections based on the 1960 law which was used in the 2009 parliamentary vote.

“I will sign the decree [to call on electoral bodies to hold the elections] before March 9,” Mikati, who spoke to pan Arab al-Hayat daily, said.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, whose ministry supervises the polls, said earlier that the voters should be called to participate in the elections before March 10.

According to the prime minister, the Lebanese political rivals will still have time to reach an agreement over a new electoral law for the polls before the formation of a committee to supervise the elections.

Mikati said that the committee would be formed on either March 22 or April 9, depending on the outcome of talks between relevant sides.

Also in remarks published Sunday, Parliament Speaker Berri denied that he intends to call for a Parliament session prior to March 9.

“I am just reading such talks in newspapers, no more no less,” he told An-Nahar newspaper.

Although Mikati and President Michel Sleiman said earlier this week that they had agreed to hold the elections on time, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai has come out in support of extending the terms of Parliament and the president to allow rival factions to agree on a new electoral law to replace the current modified version of the 1960 voting system.

The 1960 law, which has been rejected by officials on both sides of the political divide, including the Maronite Church, adopts the qada as an electoral district and is based on a winner-takes-all system.

For his part, Geagea warned in remarks published Sunday that the electoral law is “taking a disturbing course,” referring to the lack of consensus over a new vote law.

“The course of the electoral law is not reassuring and it is heading towards causing a dangerous crisis that would threaten the entire system and the country’s stability,” said Geagea, who spoke to the pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper.

The LF leader, a prominent figure in the March 14 coalition, said that opponents of the 1960 law will oppose any attempt to impose it as a de facto law for the new elections.

“If some think that we will accept holding the elections based on the 1960 law as time passes, they are wrong,” said Geagea.

“The parliamentary majority will not take the necessary procedures to allow holding the elections based on this law,” he added. “Moreover, a large part of the Lebanese people reject maintaining this law.”

Geagea reiterated that discussions among parties should focus on a formula for a hybrid electoral law that combines the winner-takes-all and proportional representation systems.

“What is required is to reach an agreement over one of the consensual draft laws, which means the hybrid formula of Berri or that of the Lebanese Forces,” Geagea said.

Berri’s plan calls for 64 MPs to be elected based on a winner-takes-all system, with the rest being voted in under proportional representation. The LF’s proposal also relies on both voting systems with the distribution of districts as used in what is known as the Fouad Boutros proposal.

The LF leader added that if the “stalled situation” remains as it is, “we may get unhappy surprises” that would paralyze the whole Lebanese system.

“The case is no longer merely that of an electoral law, I call on all parties to assume responsibility and quickly reach a new vote law.”





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