Lebanon News

Rai calls for new Cabinet to draft new electoral law

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai (C) conducts a service at the Maronite Cathedral of Saint Anthony (Mar Antonios) in Bab Tuma, a predominantly Christian quarter of Damascus, on February 9, 2013. AFP PHOTO / STR

BEIRUT: Maronite Cardinal Beshara Rai called Sunday for the formation of a new Cabinet that he said should be able to draft a new electoral law and supervise the polls on time, in light of the recent resignation of the Cabinet.

"I urge Lebanese and all those faithful to Lebanon, as well as politicians, that in these critical circumstances ... particularly after Prime Minister Najib Mikati submitted his resignation, to assess the dangers of the situation and gather on the National Dialogue table with a sense of responsibility and national conscience to form a new Cabinet,” Rai said.

The head of the Maronite Church, during a sermon on the occasion of Palm Sunday, added that a new Cabinet should approve a new voting system and hold elections within their constitutional deadline.

President Michel Sleiman accepted Saturday the resignation of Mikati’s 15-month-old Cabinet.

Mikati announced the government’s resignation Friday, citing a fallout in government over extending the term of the country’s police chief, who will retire in April, as well as the failure to approve the formation of an elections committee to supervise the June 9 polls based on an amended 1960 law.

The 1960 law, used in the 2009 parliamentary elections, is widely opposed by the country’s political parties as well as Rai.

The Hezbollah-lead March 8 coalition, which holds the majority of seats in Mikati’s now caretaker Cabinet, argued that formation of the supervisory body would be a step toward holding the polls under the law in effect.

Lawmakers have yet to agree on a new electoral proposal for the June 9 election, casting doubt on whether the polls will be held at all.

During his speech, Rai also said that the future government should needed to have better control of the security situation in the country and on the border with Syria as well as protect Lebanon from becoming a corridor for the transfer of arms to any country.

Rai also called on residents in the northern city of Tripoli to end renewed fighting between opponents and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad that has left 12 people dead and 25 wounded.

“I call on residents of Tripoli to stop the fighting and embark on an understanding and mutual respect and remain at a distance from the repercussions of ongoing events in Syria which we hope will have a safe exit via dialogue and negotiations for the sake of innocent civilians,” he said.





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