Berri Says Extension Fait Accompli, Sets Standards for New Electoral Law

Speaker Nabih Berri has said that the law on the extension of parliament's term until June 2017 will come into force despite the rejection of several cabinet ministers to endorse it, and stressed that the new electoral law should adhere to the Taef Accord.

Several local dailies on Friday quoted Berri as telling his visitors that the extension of the legislature's tenure will become a fait accompli next week when the law is published in the Official Gazette.

Parliament extended its term on Wednesday despite the boycott of several lawmakers. But nine out of 24 ministers refused on Thursday to sign the draft-law.

The lawmakers, who voted in favor of the draft-law, claim they need to extend their own term in office because the security situation is too dire to allow holding elections amid Syria's civil war.

They also say extending parliament's mandate will prevent another power vacuum from forming in a country already divided along sectarian and regional lines.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since May, when President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended without a successor.

Berri reiterated to his visitors that the security situation does not help to hold the elections, stressing that his priority was the country's stability.

Lebanon's “highest security compelled an extension,” he said.

Asked about the new electoral law, the speaker stressed that it would stipulate that half of the 128-member parliament would be elected under a winner-takes-all system, while the other half would be chosen using proportional representation.

He said that the draft-law must adhere to the Taef Agreement by adopting the governorate as an electoral district.

It should also have a fixed female quota, Berri added.

A committee of lawmakers is scheduled to meet on November 17 in Ain el-Tineh to begin discussions on the draft-law.



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