Lebanon – Subcommittee Ends Meetings without Consensus as Berri Calls Joint Committees to Session

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The parliamentary subcommittee failed on Saturday to reach consensus over a hybrid electoral draft law, MP Robert Ghanem announced after its meeting

“We will hand over the meetings’ report to Speaker Nabih Berri,” he said, adding that the latter will then refer it to the joint parliamentary committee for further discussion.

Berri had called the joint parliamentary committees to convene next week in order to address parliamentary electoral draft laws.

The meetings are set to take place on February 18, 19, 20, and 21.

The subcommittee held crunch talks on Saturday to reach common ground on a hybrid electoral draft-law proposed by Berri’s parliamentary Liberation and Development bloc.

The meeting tackled modifications to the draft-law proposed by Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan on Friday.

The proposal was met by some reservations by Hizbullah, “even though they have been addressed,” the MP told LBCI television Saturday.

Hizbullah MP Ali Fayyad said ahead of the subcommittee meeting that the LF suggestion “lack political balance.”

He criticized to Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) the law’s separation of the Hasbaya district from that of Marjeyoun, while keeping the western Bekaa and Rashaya within one district.

Adwan made his suggestion on Friday, while saying that an agreement over it could be reached on Saturday.

He told LBCI that five out of the seven reservations voiced over his proposal have been addressed, stressing that his suggestion is closest to the one presented by Berri.

The draft law combines the winner-takes-all and proportional representation systems and ensures that 56 Christian MPs are elected through Christian votes.

The subcommittee has been meeting since January in order to reach an agreement over a new electoral law with discussions focusing on the Orthodox Gathering proposal and different versions of the hybrid law.

The Orthodox law calls for each sect to elect its own MPs under a proportional representation system based on a nationwide district..

The draft law was rejected by President Michel Suleiman, Premier Najib Miqati, the Mustaqbal Movement, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, and independent March 14 MPs.

It was criticized for fueling sectarian divisions.

Different March 14 and 8 camp Christian parties had instead advocated the proposal, saying that it catered to the concerns of Christians in Lebanon.

The failure to reach an agreement over a new electoral law has sparked fears that the elections, set for June, may be postponed.

 

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