Report: Jumblat's Bloc, al-Mustaqbal to Join Miqati in Boycotting Session on Orthodox Vote Law

The National Struggle Front and al-Mustaqbal bloc are the two major parties that have so far announced that they would boycott a parliamentary session if the Orthodox Gathering proposal was put on its agenda, An Nahar daily reported on Saturday.

The newspaper said that National Struggle Front chief and Druze leader Walid Jumblat and the members of his bloc would boycott the session if Speaker Nabih Berri invites the lawmakers for a General Assembly to vote on the proposal.

But Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan, another Druze leader, would attend the session.

MP Ahmed Fatfat also stressed in remarks to An Nahar that the members of the mainly Sunni al-Mustaqbal bloc have taken the final decision to boycott any such session.

He warned that if Prime Minister Najib Miqati and the Sunni ministers of the northern city of Tripoli attend the session, they would create a political crisis that harms their representation.

His remarks came amid reports that efforts have been exerted to hold such a session before the March 10 deadline for signing a bill that calls on voters to participate in the elections.

Miqati has already announced that he would boycott any such session, which Speaker Nabih Berri has so far stalled in calling for to give rival parties more time to reach consensus on a draft-law that would govern the elections scheduled to be held on June 9.

President Michel Suleiman has vowed to challenge the Orthodox proposal before the constitutional council if is approved by parliament.

The plan divides Lebanon into a single district and allows each sect to vote for its own lawmakers under a proportional representation system. But its critics, including Miqati, al-Mustaqbal, the National Struggle Front and March 14 opposition’s independent Christian MPs, have said it harms the social fabric and leads to extremism.

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