Miqati Holds onto Equal Power Sharing, Says Centrism Defended Lebanon

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Prime Minister Najib Miqati, who is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia this month, warned on Tuesday that the so-called Orthodox Gathering electoral proposal threatens the balance set by the Taef Agreement.

The Orthodox Gathering proposal, which calls for dividing Lebanon into a single district and allows each sect to elect its own MPs based on a proportional representation system, leads to “more divisions among the Lebanese and threatens the balance set by the Taef,” Miqati told As Safir daily.

He expressed fears that the adoption of the proposal in this year’s parliamentary elections could lead the country to the unknown.

“Are its supporters aware of its dangers and consequences?” Miqati asked. “Aren’t they aware that this proposal is an indirect count of the number of Lebanese and the size of sects in Lebanon?”

Miqati wondered whether it was necessary to take such a “dangerous risk.”

The prime minister reiterated that he holds onto the Muslim-Christian partnership in the country, countering accusations of calling for a “tripartite system,” which he said is “not on his agenda.”

Miqati called for the adoption of an electoral draft-law that guarantees the right representation for all sects and mainly Christian confessions and then the establishment of a senate based on the Orthodox proposal.

He criticized Energy Minister Jebran Bassil without mentioning him, saying he was advocating the adoption of the proposal at a time when he had approved a government bill that calls for dividing Lebanon into 13 districts based on proportional representation.

“I am surprised that some (officials) have mobilized themselves to defend the Orthodox proposal at a time when they should defend the government’s draft-law,” Miqati told As Safir.

He accused him of using “double standards” at a time when he was among the first ministers to adopt the government’s bill.

“The problem is that some people are determined to head towards collapse and are telling us to follow them but we will definitely not do that,” Miqati said.

He defended President Michel Suleiman for criticizing the Orthodox proposal, saying he is acting out of his respect for his oath to preserve the constitution and national unity.

“It is natural for the president to stand against the proposal because it is unconstitutional,” Miqati told As Safir.

Asked about Bassil’s criticism of the country’s centrists, the PM said: “No one can deny that centrism warded off dangers from Lebanon and defended it in these difficult circumstances.”

“Who else can defend the country?” he asked.

The newspaper said that Miqati is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia before January 21 to participate in an Arab economic summit.

Highly-informed sources did not rule out meetings between Miqati and several Saudi officials on the sidelines of the summit.

As Safir said the prime minister will return to Beirut on January 22 to chair a cabinet session and then travel to the Swiss mountain resort in Davos to participate in the World Economic Forum.

 

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