BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati voiced optimism Monday over reaching a new elections law for the upcoming elections following a tripartite meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Cardinal Beshara Rai in Rome.
“We addressed the general ideas over [the elections] yesterday and we continued discussions today and the cardinal will hold talks with relevant sides to reach the aspired results,” a statement from Mikati’s office quoted him as saying.
Asked if he was optimistic about the possibility of reaching an electoral agreement among rival parties, Mikati answered: “God willing.”
Meanwhile, local media reports quoted Mikati as saying that a comprehensive plan over the elections was reached.
“A comprehensive, two-page plan over the parliamentary elections was reached during the meeting,” the MTV channel quoted Mikati saying.
“I will not reveal the plan as not to obstruct it,” added Mikati, who along with Rai and Berri are to attend the inauguration of recently elected Pope Francis to head the Roman Catholic Church.
The prime minister also said Rai would discuss the plan with Christian political parties upon his return to Lebanon.
A similar meeting between Berri, Mikati and Rai in Rome Sunday yielded no breakthroughs to the deadlock over what voting system to adopt in the parliamentary elections due in early June.
Last week, the Interior Ministry opened the door for people to register their names as candidates for the elections after Sleiman and Mikati signed a decree that sets the elections on June 9 based on the 1960 law, which is fiercely opposed by groups in the rival March 8 and March 14 coalitions.
However, most candidates have abstained from submitting applications at the ministry.
Also Monday, President Michel Sleiman, who is on a tour of West African states, reiterated his opposition to the Orthodox Gathering proposal.
“I will challenge the Orthodox proposal and I will not back down on my decision. This is a firm stance and I will challenge it a million times if approved by Parliament,” Sleiman said via a twitter post Monday.
The Orthodox Gathering plan, approved by Parliament’s joint committees, projects Lebanon as a single electoral district and allows each sect to elect their own MPs based on a proportional representation.
The president also voiced his opposition to any delay in the elections and said there was still time to reach a consensus over a new voting system.
“I refuse the postponement of the elections. We should not be thinking about this as we still have time to agree on a new electoral law,” he said in another post.
The Orthodox Gathering proposal still has to pass a vote in Parliament.
Berri told reporters in Rome Sunday that he was very patient over calling for a vote on the Orthodox law in Parliament and that he was waiting for political rivals to reach a consensus over a new voting system.
The Orthodox law, endorsed by Lebanon’s four major Christian political parties, as well as Hezbollah and Amal, is opposed by Sleiman, Mikati, the Future Movement, the Progressive Socialist Part, and independent Christian lawmakers in the March 14 movement.
Opponents of the proposal argue that if adopted, it would result in more sectarian divisions in the country.