Naharnet

Final Agreement Reached on Electoral Law

A final political agreement was reached Tuesday afternoon on the 15-district electoral law and the Cabinet is expected to approve it during its session on Wednesday.

"An agreement has been reached on the electoral law and all obstacles have been resolved," LBCI television reported.

According to MTV, the draft law splits Beirut into two districts and moves the minorities seat to the first district. The first district contains Ashrafieh, Rmeil, Saifi and Medawwar while the second contains Bashoura, Marfa, Zokak al-Blat, Mazraa, Ras Beirut, Ain el-Mreisseh, Minet el-Hosn and Mousaitbeh.

The parties also agreed that any electoral list has to reach a certain threshold to become eligible to win seats. The threshold is determined by the so-called electoral quotient: the total number of voters in a certain district divided by the number of seats.

The so-called preferred vote will meanwhile be counted in the administrative district and not in the electoral district, a demand that the Free Patriotic Movement had long called for.

An agreement was also reached on other technical details while no agreement was reached on the issues of “allowing the armed forces to vote, lowering the voting age and introducing a women's quota.”

The parties also agreed that expat voting will be introduced in the next elections and that the diaspora will be granted six seats.

President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri are meanwhile supposed to agree on the elections date, as per the agreement.

The political parties had intensified their meetings Tuesday to devise a final format.

Two simultaneous meetings were held at the Grand Serail according to media reports.

The first meeting gathered PM Saad Hariri, Free Patriotic Movement head Jebran Bassil, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Hizbullah secretary-general's aide Hussein al-Khalil and MPs Wael Abu Faour and George Adwan, while the second meeting gathered MPs Ahmed Fatfat and Alain Aoun, Hariri's adviser Nader Hariri and Justice Minister Salim Jreissati.

Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan, Agriculture Minister Ghazi Zoaiter, Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury and Lebanese Forces secretary-general Chantal Sarkis joined the meetings later, media reports said.

The all-party talks were followed by a meeting for the electoral law ministerial panel.

The two-hour meeting was dedicated to "hearing the remarks of all political parties regarding the draft law in order to reach a common vision that would be discussed during tomorrow's Cabinet session at the Baabda Palace," the National News Agency said.

"The new law's draft is being finalized," Minister Hajj Hassan said after the meeting.

Social Affairs Minister Pierre Bou Assi meanwhile said "there are objections, but they won't impede the law."

"The atmosphere was positive and everyone was willing to offer concessions," Bou Assi added.

Al-Jadeed television said the AMAL Movement, the Marada Movement and the Lebanese Forces expressed reservations of the issue of counting the preferred vote in the administrative district and not in the electoral district.

"We registered our objections and PM Hariri will raise them in Cabinet," Public Works and Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos of Marada said.

Hariri had reassured Monday that Lebanon “will have an electoral law on Wednesday.”

In remarks published Sunday, MP Adwan had stressed that Parliament will pass the new electoral law in its Friday session. This requires the approval of the draft electoral law during Wednesday's Cabinet session.

Adwan has played a key role in promoting the draft electoral law.


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