Kataeb to attend Parliament for elections law: Gemayel

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 Head of the Kataeb party Amin Gemayel said in remarks Saturday his party would attend Parliament sessions but only to discuss a new draft electoral law, adding that a government of technocrats was unsuitable given unrest in the region.

“We will attend a Parliament session that has only one item on its agenda and that is the electoral law in order to prevent holding elections based on the law used in 2009,” Gemayel told Al-Akhbar newspaper.

He also stressed on the importance of holding the 2013 polls on time, saying any delay would harm political stability in the country as well as Lebanon’s credibility at the international community level.

Asked whether his party would approve holding the parliamentary elections under Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s Cabinet, Gemayel said: “Organizing elections is carried out by the Interior Ministry in coordination with the concerned authorities and it is not at the discretion of the government.”

With the March 14 coalition’s boycott of legislative work attended by ministers, discussion has halted on a new electoral law to replace the one used in the previous 2009 parliamentary elections.

The opposition, which has called on the government to resign, sees the move as a further means of pressuring the Cabinet to step down following the assassination of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, who headed the police’s Information Brach and was killed in a car bombing in October.

March 14 coalition figures have also called for the formation of a “neutral, salvation” government to replace the current one to oversee the 2013 parliamentary polls, with some parties in the opposition also boycotting National Dialogue.

Gemayel, a former president, said a national salvation government was capable of guiding Lebanon given the regional turmoil and maintaining relative stability.

Referring to his term as president from 1982 to 1988 during the Civil War years, Gemayel said he had been part of a salvation government that managed to protect state institutions.

“Despite everything, that government was able to overcome obstacles and dangers even when it was not able to convene at Baabda Palace for several reasons, not the least the Syrian intervention in Lebanese affairs,” he said.

“When [former Prime Minister Rashid] Karami was assassinated, the country was hit by a major earthquake but it was able to overcome the dangers when [Salim] Hoss succeeded Karami,” Gemayel added.

He praised the salvation government during his term in office and said it “protected stability and state institutions which kept functioning while it achieved relative stability until the end of my term.”

Gemayel also voiced opposition to the idea of forming of government of technocrats, arguing that a member of such a Cabinet would not be able to provide the “necessary cover for the army and police when incidents occur such as those in Tripoli, Akkar, Sidon, Beirut and elsewhere.”

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