Joint Committees Vote on First Article in Orthodox Draft as Mustaqbal Says Might Boycott Meetings

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The joint parliamentary committees voted on Monday on the first article of the Orthodox Gathering's draft electoral law, increasing the number of MPs to 134, MTV reported.

LBCI said the session has been adjourned to Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, Former PM Fouad Saniora said he might not continue to participate in the joint committees' sessions if the second article of the Orthodox Gathering's draft law was submitted for vote, LBCI revealed.

“We will attend Tuesday's session but we will withdraw our participation if the second article of the Orthodox proposal was submitted for vote,” al-Mustaqbal MP Ahmed Fatfat expressed to LBCI.

Speaker Nabih Berri welcomed on Monday the opposition al-Mustaqbal bloc MPs back to the meeting of the joint parliamentary committees, warning the rival lawmakers that disagreement on an electoral draft-law would endanger Lebanon.

In his opening statement at the meetings of the committees that are scheduled to last till Thursday, Berri said: “Every time we grow apart, we will witness serious consequences not just in parliament but in the entire country.”

“The war of ballot boxes should only be in favor of Lebanon, and if we fail to agree with each other then we would endanger Lebanon,” he warned.

Following the committees meeting, Mustaqbal bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora reiterated the bloc's rejection of the Orthodox Gathering electoral draft-law, saying that it “only helps increase the divide in Lebanese society and will soon fragment the country.”

“This law contradicts coexistence in Lebanon and violates the constitution,” he added.

He continued: “Despite our opposition to the hybrid law that combines the winner-takes-all and proportional representation systems, we made a position that seeks to reach common ground on which we can reach an electoral law that enjoys the agreement of all components of the nation.”

“I believe that the there is a possibility that serious discussions will be taking place at the joint parliamentary committees sessions for the sake of reaching common ground, which Berri had called for, and we will back this endeavor to reach agreement among the political powers,” stated Saniora.

“We want an electoral law that will help preserve Lebanon as an oasis of coexistence and moderation,” he declared.

Furthermore, the former premier revealed that the Mustaqbal bloc will make an exception to its boycott of government-related activity by attended the joint parliamentary committees meetings.

Free Patriotic Movement MP Ibrahim Kanaan meanwhile slammed the Mustaqbal bloc's selectivity in boycotting government-related activity, accusing it of hindering democratic life in Lebanon.

He said after the joint parliamentary committees session: “We don't understand the purpose of the boycott.”

They are mistaken in believing that a boycott will hinder the approval of a new electoral law, he stated.

“The constitution does not belong to Saniora or myself, but the parliament along has the right to explain it,” he added.

“Why is the Mustaqbal bloc now speaking of fair representation, while it has remained silent over the injustice that has taken place over the past 23 years?” he wondered.

“Fears over the Orthodox Gathering proposal demonstrate that the sides worried about it do not want to achieve fair representation in Lebanon,” he noted.

“We seek consensus, but not at the expense of the constitution and fair representation in Lebanon,” Kanaan stressed.

“We will refer the Orthodox Gathering proposal to parliament where it will be subject to a vote,” he revealed.

Last-minute contacts between the country's top leaders led to an agreement for al-Mustaqbal bloc to attend the meeting on Monday to avoid being held responsible for any delay in the elections, MP Ahmed Fatfat and An Nahar daily said.

“Because there is an attempt to confront the constitution, it is our national duty to participate in the meeting of the joint committees,” Fatfat told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) ahead of the meeting that kicked off at around 11:00 am.

The meeting was preceded by consultative talks between the March 8 alliance's majority MPs and separate discussions between Berri and Saniora.

In his remarks to VDL, Fatfat stressed that his bloc will continue to boycott the rest of government-related activity in line with a decision it took in October following the assassination of Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau chief Wissam al-Hasan.

An Nahar said that Sunday's contacts involved Saniora, al-Mustaqbal movement chief ex-PM Saad Hariri, President Michel Suleiman and Berri.

A member of the bloc told An Nahar that the Mustaqbal MPs decided to end their boycott of the joint parliamentary committees meeting over fears that they will be accused of delaying the elections or canceling them if the lawmakers failed to agree on a new law that would govern the polls.

Their attendance is also necessary to confront the advocates of the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal, which al-Mustaqbal has criticized for allegedly harming the social fabric and contradicting the Taef accord.

The proposal calls for a single district and allows each sect to vote for its own MPs under a proportional representation system.

Berri said that the joint committees will first discuss the minutes of an electoral subcommittee that failed to reach consensus on a hybrid draft-law that combines the winner-takes-all and proportional representation systems.

The members of the committees will then move to deliberating on the Orthodox proposal, which had previously garnered the support of the four rival Christian parties, over the failure of the subcommittee to agree on the hybrid draft-law.

The Mustaqbal proposed earlier this month a draft-law that calls for dividing Lebanon into 37 small districts based on a winner-takes-all system and the creation of a senate to allay Christian concerns over representation.

But Berri referred it to the government to study it rather than putting it on the agenda of the committees, Fatfat said.

“Why this discrimination?,” he wondered.

Comments 10
Thumb mckinl 18 February 2013, 10:10

Al-Mustaqbal is now in panic mode ... They have been played into a corner by Miqati. Miqati called the M14 bluff when he refused to resign ... and they have been seen (and rightfully so) as the instigators of trouble in Lebanon.

Then of course Saad Hariri and Uqab Saqr were caught red handed running guns and ammo (milk and blankets lol!)into Syria while condemning Hezbollah for doing the same. The brilliant Orthodox gathering proposal has completely undermined what little was left of their schemes to buy the elections with Saudi money ...

Default-user-icon majd (Guest) 18 February 2013, 10:30

The only who have discriminated against Christians and the Lebanese are the Mustahbal Party and the Hariri Mafia. There days are now numbered. By the way Mr FATcat, PResident Lahoud should of strangled you by the balls during that awesome cabinet meeting before his tenure was over and he told you to sit down before "I tear you to pieces".

Thumb andre.jabbour 18 February 2013, 10:57

Accordio, I need to pee. Let's do what you and I usually do when this sudden urge comes... You know the drill.

Thumb andre.jabbour 18 February 2013, 11:44

No no, the reality is far less poetic. Do I need to go public about what you enjoy doing?

Default-user-icon MUSTAPHA O. GHALAYINI (Guest) 18 February 2013, 13:57

the sunni sect has to understand that saado and mustakbal are finished, they are not fit for this time.YA ANTAR MIN ANTARAK? MA HADA RADNI.

Default-user-icon Marlene (Guest) 18 February 2013, 21:35

bro why not vote under the orthodox but with majority rule rather than proportional, oh i forgot hassin would not let his little puppet micho the coeard do that, now go back do your Rod Stradling elsewhere

Thumb beiruti 18 February 2013, 23:24

This is the proposition that is before the country. As the election law currently stands, if the May-June elections were held under the law, Hezbollah would lose as its FPM allies have lost ground in the Christian constituency to other Christian parties, either aligned with M14 or not aligned.
If Hezbollah cannot win the Parliamentary elections, then Hezbollah will use its weapons or threat to use its weapons to postpone elections indefinitely.

The only option available is to change the election law so as to give Aoun a chance to pick up Deputies where otherwise he would lose. The proposal is the Orthodox proportional provision which says if your opponent received 52% and you get 48%, then Deputies are nevertheless assigned to you, proportionally. So, if the system can be rigged for Hezbollah, then the threat of no elections is lifted.
This is the choice, no elections or rigged elections to insure a Hezbollah/FPM majority.

Missing peace 18 February 2013, 23:25

“We don't understand the purpose of the boycott.”

FPM used it many times and don t understand its meaning? LOL!

this law is just a sectarian law. no more lebanese citizens but religious sects against each other... they must be proud of themselves and proud of living in the middle ages...
they all pretend to be in favor of secularism but not a single one is putting as much efforts in it as they are doing with this law! LOL...

lebanese politicians must enter the guiness book of stupidity along with their sheep...

Thumb beiruti 18 February 2013, 23:27

This is not an issue of Christians not receiving enough deputies which are elected by Christian voters. That is the mirage, the illusion and the excuse.
The real issue is to find some way for the FMP which is losing ground and cannot win a winner take all contest, to get enough out of contested districts so as to make a majority in alliance with Hezbollah. It is about Hezbollah keeping control of the government, not about Christian representation at all.

Missing moretrees 19 February 2013, 06:20

Does anybody know where I can find the first article online? I'm not familiar with the voting topic.

I'm new here and just wanted to say that I'm looking forward to having some good discussions with you all :D