National Struggle Front Meets Berri: Forming New Govt. Necessary or We Will All Pay the Price

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A delegation from MP Walid Jumblat's National Struggle Front held talks on Friday with Speaker Nabih Berri on the efforts to reach an agreement over a new government and parliamentary electoral law.

Caretaker Transportation and Public Works Minister Ghazi al-Aridi said after the meeting: “We must reach an agreement over a new government formula and electoral law otherwise all sides will pay the price of their actions.”

He warned that the region is passing through a very critical phase that will leave its impact on Lebanon, therefore urging all sides to “act in a manner that would protect the country because no one will emerge victorious from the crisis.”

“If intentions are sincere, then we must inevitably reach an agreement over these two issues,” noted the minister.

“This requires calm, courage, and concessions. The current arrogance cannot help reach the desired agreement,” stressed Aridi.

Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam's mission to form a new government has been hindered by the March 8 camp's demand that it be granted a veto power.

Salam has been adamant in his rejection of allowing any bloc to receive such a power, saying that such a cabinet cannot be productive.

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah had demanded in a speech on Thursday that the March 8 camp take part in the cabinet according to its parliamentary, not political, weight.

“Amid these circumstances, a cabinet of national interest and true partnership must be formed and we must not waste time in this issue,” he said.

Commenting on these demands, Salam's circles told An Nahar Friday that the request for the camp to be represented according to its parliamentary weight is a veiled demand for veto power.

Addressing the Orthodox Gathering electoral draft law, Aridi remarked: “Contrary to claims that the proposal is fair, we will not support it at parliament.”

Asked if National Struggle Front MPs will vote on the proposal at parliament, he responded: “We will base our actions based on Berri's decisions on this issue.”

“Contacts between us and Berri have always been ongoing,” he declared.

Moreover, he said that neither of the rival March 8 and 14 camps had presented the National Struggle Front with their electoral law proposals.

“We urge all sides to cooperate and exercise openness during this phase,” Aridi demanded.

Berri called on Wednesday lawmakers for a parliamentary session on May 15 to discuss the adoption of a new electoral law.

He had previously set a May 15 parliamentary session that would have the so-called Orthodox Gathering proposal on its agenda for being the only plan that was approved by the joint parliamentary committees unless an agreement is reached on an alternative plan before that date.

Several blocs and independent MPs are likely to challenge it even if it was adopted by parliament, which will bring the country back to the 1960 law that was used in the 2009 polls.

That law considers the qada an electoral district and is based on the winner-takes-all system. But most parties have rejected it despite their failure to reach consensus on a new plan.

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