Lebanon – Electoral Subcommittee Ends Discussions without Agreement while Fatfat, Aoun Strongly Dispute

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The electoral subcommittee on Wednesday ended its meetings dedicated to discussing the suggestions for the parliamentary elections’ law without reaching an accord on a preferred proposal.

“The joint parliamentary committees will convene next Tuesday to tackle the subcommittee report and refer it to Speaker Nabih Berri,” MP Robert Ghanem said after the talks, explaining that the lawmakers have reached conclusions over a number of issues about the electoral law, tackling the hybrid proposal in particular.

The hybrid law combines the winner-takes-all and proportional representation systems.

Ghanem remarked: “The subcommittee could resume its meets at the request of the joint parliamentary committees”.

Free Patriotic Movement MP Alain Aoun noted that the discussions were positive even though no agreement has been reached.

“We, however, have reached a conclusion over who supports and opposes the Orthodox Gathering proposal,” he stated, adding that “it will make its way to a vote”.

MP Aoun expressed that the Orthodox proposal is constitutional and provides a fair representation of Lebanese communities.

 

Aoun confirmed: “The elections will not be held based on the 1960 law and we have until March 11 to reach an agreement over the electoral law”.

 

Meanwhile, al-Mustaqbal MP Ahmed Fatfat insisted on the bloc’s rejection of both the Orthodox Gathering’s and proportional representation draft laws, explaining that their positions stems from “a commitment to coexistence and the constitution”.

Fatfat stated: “Some sides are deluded in believing that they can impose their own electoral law on us but we reject threats and intimidation”.

Phalange bloc MP Sami Gemayel restated his party’s openness and readiness to discuss and adopt any electoral law that ensures real representation, remarking that any deal should not be made at the expense of Christians.

“We will accept an alternative to the Orthodox Gathering draft if it garners the support of the majority of MPs,” Gemayel said.

MP George Adwan, the Lebanese Forces’ representative at the subcommittee’s meetings, expressed his satisfaction with the held talks saying the discussions were very frank.

“We will keep on searching for alternatives to the Orthodox proposal on condition that it in turn offers fair representation,” he said, expressing that their goal is to grant the rights of all factions and “to ease all concerns”.

Commenting on the hybrid law, Adwan said combining the winner-takes-all and proportional representation systems does not offer proper representation.

“We must also address the issue of electoral districts in this suggestion,” he noted.

Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Serge Torsarkissian rejected the Orthodox Gathering proposal, explaining that it is “destined to fail because it will face problems at the joint parliamentary committees”.

A strong verbal dispute broke out after the subcommittee meeting between MPs Fatfat and Aoun and the al-Mustaqbal representative accused the latter of failing to voice his position over any of the proposals in order

Aoun told OTV: “Al-Mustaqbal Movement is used to covering the truth and its MPs reaction is nothing but a reflection of their worries about agreeing on a law that guarantees Christians’ rights”.

The dispute was carried to the lobby of the MPs’ offices and revealed some of the secret discussions that took place during the meetings, al-Manar television reported.

Meanwhile, LBCI television said a second dispute later erupted between Fatfat and Loyalty to Resistance bloc MP Ali Fayad.

The subcommittee had initially met to discuss several draft laws including a bill proposed by the government, a March 14 draft law and the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal.

The government’s bill adopted in August calls for dividing Lebanon into 13 districts based on a proportional representation system while the draft-law proposed by March 14 Christian MPs advocates 50 small districts based on a winner-takes-all system.

The Orthodox proposal which has garnered the support of the four major Christian parties – the Phalange and the Lebanese Forces from the opposition, and their rivals form the March 8 majority the Free Patriotic Movement and the Marada – was severely criticized by the opposition Mustaqbal Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party of centrist MP Walid Jumblat and independent Christian personalities.

Their rejection of the proposal over what they said was widening sectarian differences among the Lebanese, paved way for a suggestion to hold the parliamentary elections based on the hybrid law.

The last elections were held based on the 1960 law, which adopts the qada as an electoral district and is based on a winner-takes-all system. But all factions have agreed to reject it.

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