Opposition Lawmakers to Meet 'Soon' as Officials Exert Efforts to Reactivate Electoral Subcommittee

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The March 14 alliance is expected to hold a new meeting soon to tackle the negotiations with Speaker Nabih Berri and the upcoming stage, al-Liwaa newspaper reported on Monday.

According to the daily, the opposition's meeting will focus on discussions held with Berri over the possible ways to reactivate the meetings of a parliamentary subcommittee tasked with studying the disputed issues concerning a new electoral draft law.

The March 14 coalition insists on holding the subcommittee meetings at the houses of opposition MPs who have received death threats and limited their movements. However, the March 8 majority rejects to attend the meetings other than at the parliament.

Berri informed An Nahar newspaper that he handed a March 14 delegation during a meeting on Thursday in Ain el-Tineh copies of the minutes of the joint parliamentary committee meetings concerning the tasks of the subcommittee.

The daily pointed out that the mission of the subcommittee focuses on finding a suitable electoral system and the size of districts.

Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported that Berri is providing the opposition with all the necessary facilities to resume the meetings of the subcommittee in an attempt to reach consensus over a new electoral law.

Parliamentary sources stressed that the joint committees can meet at any time if there was quorum.

The committee, which is headed by Deputy Speaker Farid Makari, includes opposition lawmakers Sami Gemayel, George Adwan, Ahmed Fatfat and Serge Torsarkissian.

Its members from the March 8 majority coalition are MPs Alain Aoun, Ali Bazzi, Ali Fayyad, Hagop Pakradounian in addition to lawmaker Akram Shehayyeb, who belongs to the National Struggle Front of centrist lawmaker Walid Jumblat.

The opposition's talks with Berri came after its parliamentary committee heads, rapporteurs and members of parliament's bureau said they were willing to attend the meeting of the subcommittee to agree on a new electoral draft-law but stuck onto their demand for the nonattendance of government representatives.

The joint parliamentary committees have been discussing a controversial electoral draft law referred by the cabinet and two other proposals by the March 14 opposition and the Change and Reform bloc led by Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun.

The government approved in August a parliamentary electoral law based on proportional representation and 13 electoral districts, however, the opposition's proposal made by MPs Adwan, Sami Gemayel and Butros Harb supports the formation of 50 small-sized districts in a winner-takes-all system, while a plan suggested by the Change and Reform bloc allows every sect to elect its own MPs under a proportional representation system with Lebanon as a single district.

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