Arslan Says Berri Seeking Consensus over Electoral Law

Lebanese Democratic Party leader Talal Arslan praised on Saturday Speaker Nabih Berri's efforts to resolve the sharp differences between the rival parties over the new electoral law, describing him as the country's “safety valve.”

“Despite the differences among the Lebanese, Berri is an important national guarantee that all sides should gather around to overcome the delicate stage with minimum losses,” Arslan said after holding talks with Berri in Ain el-Tineh.

Asked about the so-called Orthodox Gathering draft-law, which was approved by the joint parliamentary committees on Tuesday, the official refused to comment on the matter.

“There are several electoral proposals and Berri is seeking to bridge the gap between the foes to reach consensus over the electoral law,” Arslan told reporters.

The polls are likely to be postponed if the parliament gives the green light to the Orthodox Gathering proposal.

It divides Lebanon into a single district and allows each sect to vote for its own MPs under a proportional representation system.

But the proposal has been rejected by al-Mustaqbal bloc, the centrist National Struggle Front of MP Walid Jumblat, and March 14 opposition’s Christian independent MPs. It has been also criticized by President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Najib Miqati.

The meeting, according to the state-run National News Agency, was held in presence of Arslan's state minister Marwan Khaireddine and tackled the latest developments.

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