Suleiman Holds Onto Electoral Authority but Won't Reveal Options

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Environment Minister Nazem al-Khoury stressed Sunday that President Michel Suleiman will not back off from his support for the establishment of the authority that will supervise the parliamentary elections in June and would take the necessary measures if the March 8 majority alliance rejected it.

In remarks to An Nahar newspaper, al-Khoury, who is close to the president, said Suleiman will return from an African tour on March 20 and will chair a cabinet session the next day to establish the authority and agree on the funding for the polls.

Suleiman “will not back off from his stance from the establishment of the authority. If the majority ministers voted against it, then he will see what measures to take,” al-Khoury said.

“When we reach a point where we have no choice but to enter into chaos or extend (parliament's term), then the president will take the appropriate stances that reflect his commitment to the constitution and his responsibilities towards the people,” he said.

“But he will not reveal his options now,” the minister added.

Suleiman's sources also told al-Mustaqbal daily published Sunday that “there will be a big problem” if the establishment of the electoral authority was rejected.

“The president is compelled to implement the current law as long as no new law was born,” al-Khoury said. “The authority is at the heart of the electoral process no matter which law was adopted.”

Lebanon's rival parties have so far failed to agree on a new law that would govern the polls. But the majority have rejected the 1960 law that was used in the 2009 elections with some amendments.

Suleiman and Miqati have signed the decree that sets the elections on June 9, drawing accusations by the Hizbullah-led majority alliance that they want the polls to be held based on the current law which adopts the qada as an electoral district and is based on the winner-takes-all system.

“If they don't like the 1960 law then … let them come up with another law,” al-Khoury told An Nahar.

“No one is holding onto the 1960 law and the president shouldn't be held responsible,” he said. “Responsibility also lies on parliament.”

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel's official announcement that those wishing to run in the elections could register their names starting Monday further raised fears that the 1960 law would govern the upcoming polls.

The deadline is April 10 and those seeking to withdraw their candidacy have until April 25.

But parties from both the March 8 and March 14 opposition alliances haven't yet decided whether to submit their choices for candidates by the deadline set by Charbel.

Comments 3
Default-user-icon + oua nabka + (Guest) 10 March 2013, 10:15

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Default-user-icon Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah (Guest) 10 March 2013, 15:29

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Thumb chrisrushlau 10 March 2013, 19:03

Is it illegal in Lebanon to say that the electoral system guarantees that half the seats of Parliament will be occupied by "Christians"? Is it illegal to say that Shias are by themselves probably half the population of Lebanon? Is it illegal to suggest that a census should be taken, since the Taef "Accord" depends on assumptions about population slices and no census has been taken since the 1930's? Is it illegal to ask how the government is supposed to know who is Christian or Muslim anyway? What proof is acceptable? In a word, is it illegal to compare Lebanon to Israel?