Aoun Holds onto Orthodox Proposal, Says its Adoption Didn’t Violate Opponents' Rights

Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun backed on Wednesday a decision by Speaker Nabih Berri to allow rival lawmakers to reach consensus on an electoral draft-law but he stuck to his support for the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal.

“If there is no other draft-law that would be just for all sects … then there is no problem in going ahead with the Orthodox Gathering proposal,” Aoun said following talks with Berri in Ain el-Tineh.

“Berri is a man of decision. He gives enough time for everyone,” he told reporters.

“But if he finds there is lack of consensus then the proposal that has garnered the majority's support would be implemented,” the FPM chief said a day after the joint parliamentary committees approved the Orthodox proposal, the last step before referring the draft-law to parliament for approval.

Berri stressed in remarks published Wednesday that he was giving time for rival lawmakers to reach consensus on a vote law before calling for a legislative session.

The Orthodox proposal, which calls for a single district and allows each sect to vote for its own MPs under a proportional representation system, has been severely criticized by President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Najib Miqati, al-Mustaqbal bloc, the National Struggle Front and March 14 independent Christian MPs.

Aoun, who is also the head of the Change and Reform bloc, said he would respond to the accusations against him in an al-Manar TV interview.

Slamming his critics, mainly the opposition al-Mustaqbal, Aoun said: “We regained our rights without violating the rights of others.”

The FPM has been a staunch backer of the Orthodox proposal which has also garnered the support of its ally in the March 8 majority coalition the Marada movement, and its rivals from the March 14 opposition - the Lebanese Forces and the Phalange Party.

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