Lebanon – Aoun: Alternative to Orthodox Proposal is Law Based on Single District, Proportional Representation

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Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun on Friday said “the alternative” to the electoral law proposed by the Orthodox Gathering would be an electoral law that turns Lebanon into a single electoral district under a proportional representation system.

“I did not celebrate over the (approval of the) Orthodox Gathering law (by the joint parliamentary committees) and it is not a victory because victory is to be achieved during elections,” Aoun said in an interview on al-Manar television.

“They always jump to conclusions and it was a coincidence that we celebrated my birthday the day the Orthodox law was approved,” he added.

The controversial proposal of the Orthodox Gathering has been slammed as sectarian. According to the draft law, each sect would elect its own lawmakers and Lebanon would be turned into a single electorate under a proportional representation system.

The proposal has already drawn the criticism of President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Miqati. It has also been severely criticized by the opposition al-Mustaqbal bloc, the National Struggle Front of MP Walid Jumblat and March 14 opposition’s independent Christian Mps.

“Ever since 1989, Christians have been colonized, but today they are demanding their independence,” said Aoun, stressing that “the Orthodox Gathering law will take us to a real unity.”

“I am secular from head to toe and the demands I want to achieve through the Orthodox law do not reflect sectarian discrimination,” he argued.

“I still insist on the statement I said one day, ‘Abandon me if I ever become sectarian,’ and I’m not discriminating among people, I’m rather defining their rights,” he stressed.

“I insist on the 64 (Christian) lawmakers and I will not settle for less,” Aoun went on to say.

The FPM leader underlined that the Orthodox Gathering draft law is not a “political maneuver.”

“They are taking us lightly and we want a compensation for the past years,” he said.

Aoun noted that the controversial law “would not encroach on the rights of any sect.”

But “they must not encroach on our rights,” he added.

Asked about al-Mustaqbal bloc’s remarks that the Orthodox law “serves the Israeli enemy,” Aoun described them as “meaningless and absurd.”

“No one can blackmail me with their remarks and it is shameful when politicians resort to such a rhetoric,” he added.

Asked about Jumblat’s stances, Aoun said the Druze leader “is lamenting his defeat and he likes to isolate himself.”

He noted that “the most ugly law Lebanon has witnessed is the 2000 law and the 1960 law was only an attempt to refine it.”

Aoun stressed that “whoever votes against the Orthodox law is morally corrupt because they would be denying others their rights.”

The FPM leader accused President Michel Suleiman of “practicing preemptive pressure on the Constitutional Council” concerning the constitutionality of the Orthodox Gathering draft law.

“I call on President Suleiman not to employ his stance that is not in favor of the Orthodox law to pressure the Constitutional Council,” he said.

“The president should have stayed neutral instead of voicing a stance on the Orthodox law to avoid influencing the Constitutional Council’s decision,” Aoun clarified.

On the possible extension of parliament’s mandate, Aoun said: “I’m not with an extension of the current parliament’s mandate and should we fail to reach consensus, the parliament’s mandate would expire and the government would rule through decrees.”

Commenting on his alliance with Hizbullah, Aoun said: “As long as the situation in the South remains the same and Israel is our enemy, we are in an alliance with Hizbullah. Why would I disagree with Hizbullah over domestic issues if we both agree on the principles of reform.”

Turning to the issue of his remarks on the Bahraini uprising, the FPM leader said: “The oppression against the revolution that started three years ago must end and it is enough to review Human Rights Watch’s reports. Those who criticized me in Lebanon are trying to blackmail me.”

Jumblat on Thursday blasted Aoun over his stances on Bahrain, saying Lebanon must not be “implicated in reckless, hasty and biased political stances.”

Aoun has recently criticized the international community and the Arab League for their lack of support for Bahraini protesters.

The FPM leader’s statement to Iran’s al-Alam television on Wednesday was considered by Bahrain as an “irresponsible meddling in its internal affairs.”

Aoun hit back on Saturday, saying “we support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Bahrain would incur a lot of criticism if it does not advocate it.”

Jumblat lashed out at Aoun without naming him, noting that “reducing the number of ineffectual, ‘heroic’ political viewpoints, stances and analyses would spare the Lebanese expats in Arab countries threats against their presence.”

 

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