Lebanon News

Berri in Rome says patiently waiting for vote law

Speaker Nabih Berri, left, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Cardinal Beshara Rai meet in Rome on Sunday March 17, 2013. (The Daily Star/Dalati and Nohra)

BEIRUT: Parliament speaker Nabih Berri reiterated Sunday support for an electoral law that gains consensus among Lebanese political parties and said there was still time before convening a Parliament session to vote on a new voting system.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Mikati stressed that the government would remain in place, denying claims he would soon resign.

“I will go along with any consensus [on an electoral law]. I have said this before. Any electoral law that gains the consensus of the Lebanese remains better than any other law,” Berri, who along with Mikati held talks with Cardinal Beshara Rai in Rome, said.

“I am very patient and I am still waiting,” the head of the Lebanese Parliament said when asked if he intended to call for a session of the General Assembly should political rivals fail to reach consensus on a new elections law.

For his part, Mikati denied he intends to submit his resignation.

He was responding to a question concerning reports that a session of Cabinet scheduled for March 21 would be the Lebanese government’s last.

“We have heard such talk on more than one occasion and some are always banking on this taking place. But let us be optimistic, the Cabinet will not resign,” Mikati said.

Berri and Mikati left Beirut to Rome on a private jet Saturday night to take part in the inauguration Mass of the newly elected Catholic Pope Francis I.

Rai, who will also attend the ceremony, headed to the Vatican last week to take part in the election of the new head of the Catholic Church.

Local reports said that talks between the three men addressed the electoral law.

According to the LBCI television channel, Rai said Berri had asked the Maronite leader to exert efforts to bridge the gap between the Lebanese rivals over the new voting system.

Environment Minister Nazem al-Khoury, Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorius Lahham III, Armenian Catholic Patriarch of Cilicia Nerses Bedros XIX and Syriac Catholic Church Patriarch Ignatius III Younan arrived Sunday in Rome to take part in the inauguration mass which is scheduled for Tuesday.

The mass will take place at St Peter's Square, where a million people are expected to witness the event.

The 76-year-old was elected as new pope earlier this week to replace 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI.





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