BEIRUT: People wishing to put forward their names as candidates in Lebanon’s upcoming parliamentary elections can do so staring next week, a statement from Interior Minister Marwan Charbel’s office said Friday, as rival parties said they had yet to decide on whether they would begin fielding their candidates.
Starting Monday, the Interior Ministry in Beirut will open its doors for those seeking to register as candidates for Lebanon’s 2013 elections, the statement said. The deadline for submissions is April 10 and those seeking to withdraw their candidacy have until April 25, it added.
The announcement comes a week after the president and prime minister signed a decree calling for holding the polls on June 9 based on the widely criticized 1960 law. The move sparked the ire of the March 8 coalition, with some in the group saying it aimed at reviving the law used in the 2009 polls.
On Thursday, President Michel Sleiman said he strongly believed the elections would take place and not under the 1960 law, which he described as “dead.” However, he warned that Lebanon’s security situation could deteriorate should the elections be postponed or not held.
MPs from the rival March 8 and March 14 groups, commenting on the ministry’s announcement, said their parties were still undecided on whether they would submit their chose for candidates in the deadline set by the Interior Ministry.
MP Atef Majdalani, from the Future parliamentary bloc, told The Daily Star Friday that the bloc would decide during a meeting next week on whether to submit the candidates’ names.
For his part, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, from MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, also said a decision on whether to submit names would have to wait until his parliamentary bloc met next week.
While Majdalani put the announcement down to routine procedures, Kanaan described it was a “new violation of the national will.”
“The announcement is a routine step, part of the administrative procedures governing the Cabinet given that there is an electoral law in effect,” said Majdalani. “It doesn’t necessarily mean the elections will be held on the basis of the 1960 law,” he added.
“But if we fail to reach an agreement over a new voting system, I do not know,” he said.
Political parties have yet to agree on a consensual electoral law to govern the upcoming polls.
Kanaan, for his part, blasted the decision, saying it was another way of challenging Parliament.
“Charbel’s step comes after the irresponsible behavior of President Michel Sleiman and the prime minister in violation of the national will of Lebanese citizen,” he said.
“They are building their actions on a ground that has been rejected by most of the Lebanese, which is the 1960 law,” he said.
The FPM lawmaker also interpreted the procedures taken by the officials as a challenge to Parliament.
“They are causing a clash between constitutional institutions: the presidency, the government and the parliament as well as challenging the House,” he said.
However, Kanaan, said he believed the parliament’s speaker would put the controversial Orthodox Gathering law, which is backed by the Free Patriotic Movement, to a vote in the House.
“I believe [Speaker Nabih] Berri will be up to the challenge and call for a vote on the Orthodox [Gathering] proposal,” he said.
The Orthodox Gathering proposal, already approved by the parliamentary joint committees, is opposed by the president, prime minister, the Future Movement, the Social Progressive Party and several Christian political figures.
The proposal mandates that each sect elect its own MPs under a system of proportional representation.
It is supported by the country’s major Christian political parties, Hezbollah and Amal.
Kanaan also reiterated his fierce opposition to the 1960 law and stressed that the “elections will not be held based on the old law.”