Lebanon News

Speaker postpones Parliament session

BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri postponed Monday’s scheduled session of Parliament, where the issue of lowering the voting age to 18 had been slated to top its agenda, after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed into the sea minutes after its takeoff in Beirut. “Lebanon was shocked today with a national catastrophe that led to the deaths of tens of its beloved sons and daughters … thus the speaker announces that Parliament is closed and that today’s session is postponed,” said a statement from Berri’s office Monday. 
The constitutional amendment to lower the voting age was not expected to be passed at Parliament on Monday even if a session had been held, given an agreement made early Monday morning among political parties  to postpone submitting the issue to vote due to a lack of consensus. 
The issue of lowering the voting age to 18 raised a heated debate over the weekend as Christian factions tied the matter to ratifying executive procedures granting Lebanese expatriates the opportunity to vote abroad. 
A key reason behind the debate stems from the fact that according to statistics circulated in the media, there are 174,000 Muslims voters in the 18-year-old age range compared to around 58,000 Christians. 
Major political parties agreed prior to the 2009 parliamentary polls to lower the voting age to 18 in the upcoming 2013 parliamentary elections while passing a law granting expatriates the right to vote from their country of residence but without establishing an executive procedure to guarantee the process. 
But Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat said Monday that linking the issue of lowering the voting age to that of granting Lebanese expatriates the right to vote abroad was “irrational.” 
“Tying the two issues is illogical since lowering the voting age requires only a constitutional amendment after which it would be effective immediately, while allowing expatriates to vote requires the adoption of executives procedure which are still to be issued,” Fatfat said. 
As for passing a law allowingthose of Lebanese descent to retrieve their nationality, Fatfat said the issue was being discussed and may require the approval of two-thirds of the Cabinet’s members prior to its transfer to Parliament. 
Granting people of Lebanese descent the right to retrieve their nationality would open the door for over 12 million individuals, spread throughout the world, the right to claim their nationality, another controversial issue when it comes to the religious demographic balance in Lebanon.

 

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