Arslan Calls for Constitutional Amendment, Says Proportionality Guarantees Political Stability

Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan called on Sunday for the amendment of the Constitution after saying that the Taef Accord collapsed following the withdrawal of the Syrian “guardian.”

Since the adoption of the Taef agreement in 1989, Lebanon has been witnessing a "political system crisis," Arslan told An Nahar newspaper in an interview.

“A state or strong constitutional institutions can't be based on such a system,” he said.

“When the constitution was adopted in Taef, it needed a guardian which is Syria. But there is no longer a guardian after the Syrian pullout” in 2005, he said.

Asked whether he called for a constitutional amendment, the Druze leader said: “Of course and I call for state building.”

“We are currently in a semi-state where the militias, clergymen and parties are stronger than the state,” he added.

On the dispute over an electoral-law, Arslan told his interviewer that the 1960 winner-takes-all law encourages sectarianism and leads to strife.

He said a proportional representation system is the best guarantor for political stability.

“There would be larger districts in proportionality and no room for sects to control the results” of the elections that are due to be held in 2013, he said.

The cabinet approved in August a draft-law that divides Lebanon into 13 electoral districts based on proportional representation but the bill was rejected by the majority of opposition blocs.

Parliament failed to discuss the bill and other electoral draft-laws after Lebanon plunged in a political crisis following the opposition March 14 alliance's blame of the government for the assassination of Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau chief Wissam al-Hasan.

March 14 boycotted all parliamentary activity and refused to participate in the national dialogue called for by President Michel Suleiman.

Despite the president's insistence to bring bickering parties together, Arslan said the all-party talks can no longer resolve the country's crisis given that each side is backed by foreign parties.

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