Lebanon – Suleiman: Ministers Should Not Violate Govt. Consensus Reached over Electoral Law

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President Michel Suleiman stressed that the parliamentary elections will be held on time, while emphasizing the government’s agreement on an electoral law based on proportional representation.

He said: “The draft law was referred to parliament for discussion and the ministers should not violate the government’s consensus over the proposal.”

He made his remarks at the beginning of a cabinet session held at the Baabda Palace.

Suleiman continued: “There has been talk that the president has violated the Christian consensus over an electoral law, and that is not true.”

“How could I have violated a consensus that I was not consulted over?” he wondered in reference to his opposition to the Orthodox Gathering electoral draft law that enjoys the agreement of a Christian four-party committee comprised of the Phalange Party, Marada Movement, Free Patriotic Movement, and Lebanese Forces.

Suleiman added that some non-Christian parties were not consulted over the agreement on the Orthodox Gathering proposal.

Energy Minister Jebran Bassil expressed regret on Sunday that Suleiman had criticized the Orthodox Gathering proposal.

“He would be held responsible for missing this opportunity or for targeting a rare Christian consensus,” he said. “But I don’t think that the president would do such a thing.”

The Orthodox proposal calls for a single electoral district and allows each sect to vote for its own lawmakers under a system of proportional representation.

March 14 opposition alliance’s independent Christian politicians, al-Mustaqbal Movement, and MP Walid Jumblat’s Progressive Socialist Party have criticized it for allegedly deepening sectarian divisions.

Suleiman has also described it as unconstitutional and media reports said the president would not sign the bill if adopted by parliament.

The government approved in August an electoral law based on proportional representation and 13 districts.

It was rejected by Jumblat and the March 14-led opposition, which deemed it as being tailored to the March 8 camp’s interests.

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