BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati should have defended the Cabinet’s own electoral draft, Speaker Nabih Berri said in remarks published Monday, a day after the two leaders signed a decree calling for the general elections to be held on June 9.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea reiterated his objection to the 1960 law – used to govern the 2009 elections – and said efforts are still under way to reach a consensus on a new electoral law for the June polls.
“If I were Sleiman or Mikati, I would have defended the Cabinet's electoral proposal instead of neglecting it,” Berri, who spoke to Al-Joumhouria newspaper, said.
The speaker’s comments come after Mikati and Sleiman’s recent signing of a decree calling for the general elections to be held on June 9.
In a wide-ranging interview Monday night, Mikati, commenting on the signing of the decree, said: “We have a law [1960 law] that is in force and we must take the constitutional procedures. I will call for the elections to be held and will continue with the procedures to the end.”
Berri reiterated that elections would not take place if lawmakers failed to agree on a new voting system and said he would only call for a Parliament session once there was a new electoral draft to vote on.
“Let everyone agree on an electoral law and I will call for a Parliament session to endorse it the following day,” the speaker said.
A government source told The Daily Star Monday that Mikati and Sleiman’s signing of the decree was a routine constitutional measure and would still allow rival political leaders to agree on a new electoral law to replace the amended 1960 law used in the 2009 polls.
Rejected by officials on both sides of the political divide, the 1960 law adopts the qada as an electoral district and is based on a winner-takes-all system.
Berri slammed the 1960 law, describing it as “dead.”
“All the timeframes set by this law have no importance or value and I am not concerned with them,” he said.
Prior to leaving for Rome Monday, Cardinal Beshara Rai also criticized the 1960 law and reiterated his call for lawmakers to agree on a new voting system “that preserves the dignity of the Lebanese and the Parliament.”
“It is a shame for Parliament, which is authorized to carry out legislative activity in the country, to fail to reach a new voting system other than the 1960 law,” said Rai.
“If lawmakers fail to agree on a new voting law then allow me to say that they do not deserve to be lawmakers,” he added.
Separately, the LF leader told the Kuwaiti Al-Rai newspaper that it was wrong to “bet on the 1960 law,” saying that the majority of lawmakers insist on having a new law for the elections.
“If some think that by wasting time, we will hold the elections based on the 1960 law, they are wrong,” said Geagea.
“The majority inside the Parliament has a real will to reach a new law,” he said.
According to Geagea, discussions on an electoral draft are focusing on a hybrid formula that joins both proportional representation and a winner-takes-all-system.
“We are discussing a hybrid vote with our allies and I can say the primary reactions are not negative,” said Geagea.
He added that the Future Movement was also trying to reach an agreement over a new voting system with the Progressive Socialist Party, “and that is what is delaying the [Future] party.”