Lebanon News

Aoun wants polls under 1960 law: Geagea

BEIRUT: The Free Patriotic Movement is seeking to hold the general elections under the 1960 law, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea alleged in remarks published Tuesday, a day after MP Michel Aoun said FPM candidates would file requests to run in the polls under the controversial voting system.

“The Free Patriotic Movement is seeking to hold the elections under the 1960 law,” Geagea told the local Al-Akhbar newspaper. “[We regard] the movement’s effort a crime and the only solution to thwart this is to hold a Parliament session and vote on a new electoral law as soon as possible,” he added.

Aoun, in a television interview Monday, said he opposed the 1960 law.

The LF leader also took aim at Speaker Nabih Berri, saying he did not feel the head of Parliament was leaning toward convening a general session of the legislature.

“Unfortunately this was not the case: we did not detect any seriousness in holding a general assembly session,” said Geagea, when asked whether it was possible Berri would convene the Parliament session.

A Parliament subcommittee meeting headed by Berri failed Monday failed to make any progress over the issue of a new electoral law for the upcoming elections.

Berri warned MPs late last week that he would not convene a general session of Parliament until they either reached a deal on a new electoral law or agreed to extend Parliament’s term.

Geagea, a leading figure in the March 14 alliance, said that the “only way his party would agree to extending the term of Parliament was if it was for a short period of time and that there be agreement on an electoral law other than the 1960 [law].”

“Holding the polls is extremely important to maintaining stability and halting chaos,” Geagea said.

The recent failure of MPs to reach a deal over an electoral law has in effect left the country with two alternatives: the extension of Parliament’s term or holding the elections based on the current 1960 law.

An amended version of the 1960 law was adopted in the 2009 parliamentary elections but the majority of the political blocs are refusing to adopt it for this year's polls. This year’s elections are due in June.

In an interview aired on television late Monday, Aoun, said despite opposition to the 1960 law, party members would submit applications to run under the current law.

“The bloc will present its candidacies for the upcoming parliamentary elections according to the 1960 law in order to avoid having to face any urgent situation,” Aoun told MTV television.

“We can return to Parliament and we are in agreement with the Lebanese Forces that if choices are limited to the 1960 law and Parliament’s extension then we will return to the Orthodox [Gathering] proposal,” he said.

“I am against Parliament’s extension and against the 1960 law and if the Orthodox proposal [is not passed] then we will not boycott the elections,” he added.

Tension flared recently between the FPM and LF over the Orthodox draft law, which had enjoyed support from the country’s main Christian political parties.

However, the LF and its ally the Future Movement backed late Monday a hybrid formula as an alternative to the Orthodox proposal, in a move that outraged Aoun, who heads the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc, and prompted him to accuse Geagea of “deception.”

Geagea, in his comments to Al-Akhbar, defended his decision to endorse the hybrid formula and said that his party had made a compromise for the sake of the country.





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