Charbel Says Interior Ministry Ready for All Vote Law Possibilities

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Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel has rejected to be held responsible for a parliamentary vacuum, saying he would exert all efforts to hold the elections on time if no agreement was reached on a new vote law.

In remarks to As Safir daily published Monday, Charbel said: “I won't be at any moment responsible for the vacuum in the legislative branch.”

If the rival MPs agreed the last minute to keep the 1960 law or extend parliament's four-year mandate, and the extension was challenged, then he said they wouldn't have any other choice but to resort to the 1960 law.

Adding: “In this case, the ministry will do all it can to raise the level of its readiness to hold the polls” on June 16.

He conditioned a quick cabinet meeting to approve the necessary funding to carry out the elections and the formation of the authority that would supervise the polls.

But if the different parliamentary blocs agreed to a six-month or two-year extension and it wasn't challenged by the Constitutional Council, then the interior ministry would have plenty of time to prepare for the elections.

Charbel accused the rival politicians of confusing him in addition to candidates.

An electoral subcommittee tasked with agreeing on a new law will hold its last meeting under Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday.

But it will most likely fail in reaching consensus on a hybrid proposal made by al-Mustaqbal bloc, the Lebanese Forces, MP Walid Jumblat’s National Struggle Front and March 14 alliance's independent lawmakers.

The plan calls for 46 percent of MPs to be elected based on proportional representation and 54 percent under the winner-takes-all system.

It also divides Lebanon into 26 districts and six governorates.

If the subcommittee meeting ends in failure, then the MPs would likely approve a measure for the extension of parliament’s mandate, which expires on June 20, or agree on holding the elections based on 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 it is criticized for failing to guarantee the appropriate representation for all the Lebanese, mainly Christians.

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