Lebanon president calls orthodox law unconstitutional

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman voiced on Tuesday his opposition to the adoption the Orthodox Gathering’s proposed law in the upcoming parliamentary elections, calling it “unconstitutional”.

“We encourage the electoral subcommittee to discuss the proportional representation law,” Suleiman said in an interview with the Progressive Socialist Party-affiliated newspaper al-Anbaa, adding that this so-called Butros draft law can be modified and improved to respond to the concerns of all parties in Lebanon.

The Butros Committee draft law, which was headed by former Foreign Minister Fouad Butros in 2005, has combined in its proposal the proportional representation and winner-takes-all systems.

“Despite its unconstitutionality, the Orthodox Gathering’s law does have a positive side which is considering Lebanon as one single electoral district,” Suleiman noted.

“We expect Speaker Nabih Berri to form a constitutional committee to look into the legality of the proposed electoral laws,” he added.

President Suleiman urged the members of the electoral subcommittee to exert all efforts to come with a constitutional law, adding that the “best solution might be adopting the proposal suggested by the government and modified to include both proportional representation and the winner-takes-all systems”.

Lebanon’s largest opposition parliamentary group the Future Movement bloc said on Tuesday that it rejects the cabinet’s proposed electoral law which is based on proportionality, especially at this “particular” phase.

“We do not approve the electoral law based on proportionality, especially at this particular phase because of the control of armed de-facto forces in some Lebanese regions,” the statement said in an implicit reference to Hezbollah.

Lebanon’s Cabinet approved last August a new electoral draft law that called for proportional representation and divided the country into 13 districts as follows: Beirut 2, south Lebanon 2, Bekaa 3, north Lebanon 3 , Mount Lebanon 3.

The new electoral law was approved by the majority of ministers, including the FPM ministers . However the ministers that representProgressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc voted against it.

Even though the FPM ministers voted for the cabinet ‘s electoral law draft, FPM MPs Alain Aoun and Neemtallah Abi Nasr submitted another draft electoral law to the parliament . This is the so called “Greek Orthodox gathering proposal” which calls on each sect in Lebanon to vote only for its candidate in the elections based on one electoral district for the whole country .

March 14 Christian MPs Georges Adwan, Boutros Harb and Sami Gemayel submitted a draft electoral law based on 50 districts and winner take all majority to the Parliament’s General Secretariat last October

Jumblatt and his PSP MPs still favor the current 1960 winner take all electoral law.

Lebanon is set to hold new parliamentary elections around June 2013, but the country’s political circles are divided over the electoral law issue .

A Christian four-party panel on the electoral law agreed on Sunday to endorse the electoral law proposed by the so-called Orthodox Gathering, under which each sect would elect its own lawmakers, and all Lebanon will be one electoral district

The panel took its decision during a meeting held in Bkirki. The four-party panel comprises representatives from the Free Patriotic Movement, the Lebanese Forces, the Phalange Party and the Marada Movement.