Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Wednesday announced that his party will vote for the hybrid draft electoral law proposed by al-Mustaqbal Movement, the LF and the Progressive Socialist Party in any plenary parliamentary session, accusing Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun of “committing a crime” by returning to the 1960 law.
“We were the ones who suggested the Orthodox Gathering proposal and the committee met with all leaders and when all parties rejected the proposal, we shelved it,” Geagea said of the controversial draft electoral law, under which each sect would elect its own MPs.
“On April 3, 2013, we became convinced that this proposal has no hope to pass,” Geagea added.
“Through practical experience, we realized that the Orthodox Gathering law would be a leap into the unknown and that it would pose a threat to the Lebanese formula, although it would lead to the election of 64 MPs by Christians,” he explained.
And as he stressed that the Orthodox Gathering draft law is the only proposal that can secure the election of 64 out of 64 Christian MPs, Geagea added: “How can we lose a country for the sake of winning 64 MPs?”
“The other camp had doubts that the Orthodox law is futile, that's why they agreed to suspend it. We want the 64 MPs in order to live with others in this country, not alone,” Geagea added.
He recalled that Aoun had said in an interview on OTV in 2011 that the Orthodox law is “sectarian, unconstitutional and unacceptable.”
“Suddenly he flip-flopped, not for the sake of Christians, but rather for the sake of a dirty game they are playing,” Geagea added.
“I did not spend 11 years in jail to make compromises and engage in games such as those that are being played by Aoun for the sake of regaining lost popularity,” he said.
On Monday, Aoun said that the 1960 electoral law “will impose itself on us,” but noted that the Orthodox Gathering proposal has not yet been dropped.
He called on Tuesday for a vote on the Orthodox Gathering and hybrid electoral draft laws.
Aoun said after the Change and Reform bloc's weekly meeting: “I am prepared to accept the outcomes of the votes on both of the draft laws.”
“I'm not convinced of the 1960 law and all meetings in Bkirki stressed that it is rejected, but Aoun is now endorsing it,” said Geagea.
He denied that Saudi Arabia had pressured him to abandon the Orthodox Gathering proposal.
“The Saudis told me to keep endorsing the Orthodox proposal if that is my choice,” he revealed.
“The hybrid law is the best solution for Christians and achieving 64 seats is a good thing, but the proposed method to achieve that is bad,” Geagea added.
Criticizing Aoun's accusations, Geagea said “those keen on Christian consensus must not wage a media campaign against the other Christian party.”
“Let anyone give me a proposal that secures the election of 64 MPs by Christians while preserving the Lebanese formula and I will endorse it,” said Geagea.
He noted that the hybrid law is based on the proposals of former minister Fouad Butros and Speaker Nabih Berri.
“We will vote for the hybrid law because it is the best possible law we can achieve while preserving Lebanese partnership,” he said.
In response to a question, Geagea ruled out that a parliamentary session would be held to vote on electoral laws, saying “it will not happen because Hizbullah is preoccupied in Syria and does not want elections.”
“Aoun is committing a big crime for the sake of small electoral gains,” Geagea charged.
He noted that the hybrid law “secures at least 15 more MPs elected by Christian votes compared to the 1960 law.”
“Constitutional deadlines must not be overlooked and it is necessary to hold the elections,” Geagea stressed.
“The worst option is returning to the 1960 law,” he added.
Commenting on Hizbullah's involvement in fighting in the Syrian province of Qusayr, Geagea said: “Hizbullah's participation harms the National Pact and the party has established its own state and it has a major project which has nothing to do with the Lebanese state.”
“The only solution is separating Hizbullah's state from the Lebanese state, which means forbidding Hizbullah from taking part in any state institution,” Geagea suggested.
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