Berri Advises Bickering Camps to Meet Halfway, Says he Has Several Electoral Law Proposals

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Speaker Nabih Berri advised on Monday the bickering parliamentary majority and the opposition to take advantage of the “golden opportunity” to agree on an electoral draft-law ahead of the 2013 parliamentary polls.

In remarks to several local newspapers, Berri said: “Everyone should drop their negative” attitudes.

He accused lawmakers set to activate the role of the parliamentary electoral subcommittee of lacking patriotism if they failed to reach “positive results.”

The revival of the subcommittee, which is set to meet on January 8, paved way for putting the electoral draft-law on the right track, Berri said.

He stressed he would make at least 10 proposals if the MPs had good intentions to agree on a law during their intense one-week meetings.

Berri said he was even willing to extend the meetings if the discussions required more time, but he warned they would end in failure if the MPs continued to hold onto their own proposals without making any concessions.

The cabinet’s bill that set 13 electoral districts based on proportional representation was rejected by the March 14 opposition alliance and the National Struggle Front bloc of centrist MP Walid Jumblat.

Several other laws have been drafted. But discussions reached a dead-end in October when the opposition boycotted all parliamentary activity in the aftermath of the assassination of Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau chief Wissam al-Hasan.

Last week, it agreed to resume discussions on a new electoral law after reaching an agreement with Berri on a secure location to hold the talks.

The opposition members of the subcommittee voiced their willingness to temporarily stay in a hotel within parliament’s security perimeter after they told the speaker that they were fearing for their lives over death threats.

Berri said in his remarks published Monday that the “key” to an agreement between the majority and the opposition lies in drafting a law that gives the ability to each party “to believe that it can win the elections.”

“If we try to come up with a unified formula then we could most probably meet halfway,” Berri told the newspapers.

Highly-informed sources said that among the possible solutions to the dispute is the amendment of a draft-law proposed in 2005 by the Butros Committee which was headed by former Foreign Minister Fouad Butros.

It combines the proportional representation and winner-takes-all systems.

 

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