Lebanon – Charbel Briefs Suleiman on Vote Preparations but Candidates Shy Away from Registration

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Interior Minister Marwan Charbel briefed President Michel Suleiman on the preparations undertaken to hold the elections in June amid reports that no candidate had on Monday registered for the polls.

A statement issued by the presidential palace, said Charbel briefed Suleiman “on the security situation in the country and the preparations undertaken by the interior ministry for the elections.”

Suleiman and Charbel also discussed negotiations between rival officials “on producing a modern law that represents all of Lebanese society’s factions,” the statement said.

The rival parties haven’t yet agreed on an electoral draft-law that would govern the parliamentary elections set to be held on June 9.

The so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal has been approved by the joint parliamentary committees but several blocs are negotiating the approval of a hybrid draft-law over their rejection of the first plan.

The Orthodox proposal considers Lebanon a single electoral district and allows each sect to vote for its own MPs under a proportional representation system. But the hybrid draft-law combines proportionality and the winner-takes-all system.

Last week, Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Miqati signed a decree calling for the elections on June 9 based on the 1960 law that was used in the 2009 polls, drawing the ire of the Hizbullah-led March 8 coalition.

Charbel also called for candidates to register for the polls starting Monday, which raised fears among majority officials that the elections would be held based on the 1960 law that considers the qada an electoral district and is based on the winner-takes-all system.

But it was reported on Monday that no candidate put forward his name.

The rival MPs from both the March 8 majority and the opposition March 14 alliances seem to be shying away from announcing their candidacies for fears of being accused of supporting the 1960 law.

The majority of politicians have stressed that the law will not be implemented.

Charbel traveled to Riyadh after his talks with Suleiman at Baabda palace on Monday to attend the Arab interior ministers meeting in the Saudi capital on March 13-14.

Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi accompanied Charbel, who said at Beirut airport that the meeting is necessary to consolidate joint Arab security cooperation.

He hoped for fruitful results that would “safeguard our countries from the spread of all sorts of crime.”

 

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