Lebanon – France Laments Factions’ Failure to Agree on Electoral Law as Jumblat, Gemayel to Meet Hollande

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France is keen that the Lebanese parliamentary elections are held as scheduled in June, while lamenting the failure of the political factions to reach an agreement over a new electoral law, reported the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Saturday.

An official French source told the daily: “French President Francois Hollande hopes that the elections will be held on time” and he will relay this message to Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat and Phalange Party chief Amin Gemayel.

Jumblat traveled to Paris on Friday where he is set to meet the French president on Monday, while Gemayel is scheduled to meet Hollande on Wednesday.

Al-Hayat noted that the two Lebanese officials’ visits coincides with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s trip to France as well.

Meanwhile, an informed French source noted to the daily: “This is the first time that the Lebanese factions have been allowed to discuss a new parliamentary electoral law in the absence of foreign hegemony.”

“Despite this fact, they have failed to reach an agreement,” they lamented.

They praised President Michel Suleiman for voicing his rejection of the Orthodox Gathering proposal, while stressing that France is not entitled to expressing which electoral law it prefers.

They noted however that the dispute over the law has been transformed into a plan to “once again divide Christians in Lebanon.”

“Paris is aware and understands the strong Christian fears in Lebanon, especially in light of the dangers against Christians in Iraq and Syria,” continued the sources.

“They are in need to reassure themselves through advocating the Orthodox Gathering law,” they observed.

“This may be a shortsighted approach, but it is understandable,” they remarked.

Moreover, they said that Hizbullah is “going ahead with whatever the Free Patriotic Movement agrees on because it knows that the Orthodox Gathering proposal will lead to failure of the Taef Accord, which will enable it to acquire a stronger control over state institutions.”

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 FPM and the Marada Movement – was severely criticized by President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Najib Miqati, the opposition Mustaqbal Movement, Jumblat, and independent Christian personalities.

It calls for each sect to elect its own representative at parliament.

Its critics said that the proposal only fuels sectarianism and extremism in Lebanon.

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