Report: Rome Meeting Agrees on Technically Postponing Polls, Formation of Senate

A meeting held between Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Miqati reached a breakthrough over the controversial electoral law, which will be technically postponed according to a two-page plan.

Al-Liwaa newspaper reported on Tuesday that the two-page document, which was agreed upon between the three officials, states that political foes should consent on a hybrid electoral law that divides the parliamentary seats equally based on winner-takes-all and proportional systems or 60 percent of MPs be elected through the winner-takes-all and 40 according to the proportional system.

The document also calls on the formation of a senate. The daily said that senates would be elected according to the Orthodox Gathering proposal.

The proposal also suggests the formation of an independent authority overseeing the elections and carrying out the senate elections and parliamentary elections on the same day.

In addition to the formation of a new cabinet to supervise the polls.

A second meeting was held on Monday between al-Rahi, Berri and Miqati to tackle the dispute over the new electoral law.

The three officials held a first round of deliberations on Sunday in Rome, where they will attend the inauguration mass of Pope Francis I on Tuesday.

The premier issued a statement after Monday's meeting revealing that an agreement was reached on a two-page plan to resolve the dispute over the electoral law, rejecting to unveil its details.

Sources described Monday's meeting in comments to An Nahar newspaper as “optimistic,” pointing out that rival parties are reaching consensus over the electoral law.

The sources said that talks in Rome focused on the importance of avoiding any political vacuum.

According to al-Liwaa newspaper, al-Rahi will brief the Christian leaders on the two-page plan reached during the meeting in Rome.

Al-Rahi will discuss with them the steps undertaken to technically postpone the upcoming parliamentary elections to prepare the required constitutional measures to carry out the agreement.

The meeting will include Phalange party leader Amin Gemayel, Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, Lebanese forces leader Samir Geagea and prominent Christian figures, the newspaper reported.

A consensus over an electoral law has yet to be reached after the Orthodox Gathering's proposal that considers Lebanon a single district and allows each sect to vote for its own MPs under a proportional representation system, was opposed by President Michel Suleiman, Miqati, al-Mustaqbal bloc, the PSP, and the independent Christian MPs of the March 14 opposition.

They argue that the proposal harms the social fabric and increases sectarian tension.

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