Lebanon – Kataeb favors Orthodox law in absence of alternatives

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The Kataeb party will continue to back the Orthodox Gathering electoral proposal until better alternatives are put forward, Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel said in remarks published Saturday.

“We will vote for the Orthodox proposal if no alternatives are available,” Gemayel, who spoke to An-Nahar newspaper, said.

Gemayel’s statements come after rival Christian leaders attended an unexpected meetings chaired by Cardinal Beshara Rai at Bkiriki Friday.

During the meeting, the participants called for adopting an electoral law that provides fair representation for all sects, signaling an apart backtracking on an earlier agreement to back the Orthodox Gathering law, which projects Lebanon as one district in which every sect elects its own members of Parliament under a proportional representational system.

The Orthodox Gathering law is opposed by President Michel Sleiman, the Future Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party as well as many independent Christian politicians.

In the interview with the Arab daily, Gemayel slammed those opposed to the Orthodox proposal, particularly Christian detractors, who he accused of maintaining silence on the protracted period in which the Christian sect has been marginalized politically.

“Twenty-three years of marginalization of Christians. Why haven’t they objected back then as they are today? Where were the independent figures when Christian representation was being high jacked?” he asked.

MP Boutros Harb, a member in the March 14 coalition, reiterated Saturday his opposition to the Orthodox proposal, arguing that it is a recipe for inciting further sectarianism in the country.

“The Orthodox Gathering proposal will divide Lebanon into sectarian mini-states ruled by extremism,” said Harb in comments to Voice of Lebanon Radio station.

According to the Batroun lawmaker, the only way to win the elections, were they based on the Orthodox proposal, would be to mobilize people through fueling sectarian sentiments which would ultimately lead to Sunni-Shiite strife.

“Christians would be mistaken in believing that they would escape unscathed from the unrest,” Harb said.

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