President Michel Suleiman noted that in light of the changes in the Arab world, it would be unacceptable for Lebanon to fail to hold the parliamentary elections in 2013, reported al-Joumhouria newspaper on Saturday.
He told the newspaper: “The elections should be held regardless of which electoral law is adopted.”
“Elections are the first form of democracy,” he explained.
He added that he supports the adoption of proportional representation for the law, saying that it was mentioned during the government’s ministerial statement.
On the discussions between various political powers over the law, the president remarked: “We are seeking to rectify the current law in accordance with the Lebanese system and Taef Accord.”
Suleiman said that the amended 1960 law that was used in the 2009 elections was based on the distribution of sects.
“This was not the aim of the law when it was first devised and it is therefore no longer suitable for the elections,” he continued.
“It no longer reflects mutual coexistence among the Lebanese given the geographic and demographic changes in the country,” he stated.
“Proportional representation on the other hand serves these changes. Other proposals can be adopted if they also serve the same purpose,” said the president.
The March 8 camp has voiced support for proportional representation for the law.
This suggestion was met with the opposition of former Premier Saad Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat.
The MP said that the law seeks to limit his political weight.
Commenting on Hariri and Jumblat’s positions, Suleiman remarked: “Proportional representation will be discussed at cabinet and later at parliament.”
“Should it be rejected, then it can be amended or the other camps can make proposals other than the 1960 law,” he stated.
The president did not rule out the possibility of holding national dialogue to tackle the elections, stressing that he does not seek to launch a confrontation with any political power.
“The previous law would be adopted should talks fail to reach an agreement over a new one,” he concluded.
He added that he will seek to amend the old law.
Suleiman revealed that he is not seeking to extend his term in office, also saying that he is not keen on running any candidates during the parliamentary elections.
“I will not support any side against the other and I have never supported one camp against the other,” he declared.
Asked if the current government is capable of holding the elections, he replied: “The prime minister and interior minister are both neutral figures … It’s important that a sound foundation and law be adopted in order for the elections to take place.”
“I trust the premier, interior minister, and judiciary,” the president told al-Joumhouria.
Addressing the general security situation in Lebanon, he denied claims that the Lebanese government is incapable of imposing its authority throughout the country, adding that “we all know why Hizbullah has retained its arms.”
“An agreement was reached among all political powers since the approval of the Doha agreement that the party would not employ its weapons on the internal scene,” stated Suleiman.
“The arms therefore have not been used for security purposes and they should not be used to such an end,” he continued.
Asked if the Lebanese government has the choice of war and peace, he responded: “Of course, and that’s how the situation should be.”
On the national dialogue, the president said: “I never stopped urging all sides to return to the dialogue table … each side however has announced conditions for returning to the talks.”
The March 14 camp has demanded that Hizbullah’s arms be the main topic of discussion at the national talks, while party chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has demanded that no conditions be placed in order to hold the dialogue.
“The national dialogue did not fail, it just stopped being held,” noted Suleiman.
Asked if Hizbullah may agree to a defense strategy controlled by the state, he replied: “It has to for its sake and the state’s.”
“What is the use of dialogue if the defense strategy is not discussed?” he wondered.
“The halt of the dialogue is not the end of the world because it will be resumed sooner or later,” he commented.
“All disputes in Lebanon have been resolved through dialogue,” he remarked.
Turning to the Syrian crisis, Suleiman said that democracy needed to be introduced in Syria.
“All sides must hold talks to find the best solution that suits Syrian society … I hope that democracy will preserve the components of its society,” he added.
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