Mashnouq expects ‘ a brief extension’ for parliament as no deal on electoral law is in sight

Nuhad MashnoukLebanon Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq said Tuesday after a meeting  in Maarrab  that there is no deal on a  new electoral  law in sight before the expiry of the deadlines, stressing  that an  extension of the parliament’s term will be needed but will be  “brief” and for technical reasons.

“The meeting is part of the consultations with the leader of the Lebanese Forces amid the current circumstances in the country, whether regarding the elections, the threats or the appointments,” said Mashnouq after talks with LF leader Samir Geagea in Maarab.

“I like to hear his opinion seeing as he has balanced stances and I hope these standards will be endorsed in all the coming junctures,” the minister added.

As for the electoral law, Mashnouq said: “There is nothing new in this regard and I hold onto my opinion that I see no possibility for an agreement on a new electoral law.”

Asked whether his remarks indicate that the elections will be held under the controversial 1960 electoral law, the minister said the decision belongs to the parliament and government.

“Any postponement of the elections will be for technical reasons and for a brief period, seeing as the country cannot withstand a long postponement and no one can take the blame for undermining Lebanon’s reputation and the State’s credibility abroad,” Mashnouq added.

The Iranian backed Hezbollah has repeatedly called for an electoral law fully based on proportional representation but other political parties, especially the Future Movement, have rejected the proposal and argued that the party’s controversial arsenal of arms would prevent serious competition in regions where the Iran-backed party has clout.In 2013 Lebanese Forces and The Future Movement backed by the PSP agreed on a hybrid electoral law which calls for 54% of the MPs to be elected under the majoritarian winner-takes-all system and 46 % under the proportional representation system. This draft law was rejected by the Hezbollah-led March 8 opposition.

Also in 2013 Future Movement leader PM Saad Hariri rejected the electoral law that is based on proportional representation because there will be competition in some regions, but there cannot be any competition in other regions, because of the presence of Hezbollah weapons in them.

Hariri was referring to the 2009 election in the areas dominated by Hezbollah. According to the reports that surfaced back then Hezbollah gunmen prevented their rivals from voting and the results of the election showed it. On the other hand in the March 14 dominated areas several Hezbollah backed candidates won the election that was based on winner take all . In a proportional representation system Hezbollah will be able to gain more seats in the March 14 dominated areas but will not lose any seats in its dominated areas as long as it is allowed to keep its arms and use them internally for political gain .

According to analysts Hezbollah is trying to use President Michel Aoun to dominate Lebanon by insisting on adopting the proportional law in a single or several expanded electoral districts.

The country has not voted for a parliament since 2009, with the legislature instead twice extending its own mandate.

The 2009 polls were held under an amended version of the 1960 electoral law and the next elections are scheduled for May 2017.

Constituent Assembly

There are rising concerns  in Lebanon that if current situation leads to a parliamentary vacuum    there will be no choice but to demand a constituent assembly to change the country’s constitution and its political sys­tem.

Hezbollah chief  Hassan Nasrallah called for a con­stituent assembly in June 2012 to build a “real state”, as he put it. This is something that March 14 views as an attempt by Hezbollah to impose a Sunni-Shia-Christian status quo on the Lebanese political system, rather than the Christian- Muslim parity that is enshrined in the Taif agreement constitution.

The March 14 alliance rejects any constituent assembly at this time, saying that the current circum­stances would not allow for a bal­anced debate due to Hezbollah’s ability to bring its arms into play.  They are concerned that Hezbollah has a clear agenda of its own that aims to change the status quo in Lebanon and impose a polit­ical system that is more in line with  Iran.

Dr. Elias Abou Assi, political science professor at the Saint Joseph University, was quoted as saying  in June 2014  “the very idea of the constituent assembly represents a coup endeavor and a sort of a plot to destroy the foundations upon which Lebanon is built.”

Worse than vacuum

The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc  (which is headed by president Aoun  ) stressed Tuesday that the 1960 electoral law or another extension of the parliament’s term are both “worse than vacuum,”  MP Ibrahim Kanaan , Change and Reform secretary , said after the bloc’s weekly meeting in Rabieh.

“To us, extension and the 1960 law are both worse than vacuum,” Kanaan  said.

But Speaker Nabih Berri has announced in recent days that elections under the 1960 law would be better than parliamentary vacuum.

Several political parties are meanwhile discussing a  hybrid electoral law that mixes proportional representation with the winner-takes-all system.

  • William Petro

    Mashnouq makes me sick!

  • vs
  • vs

    (GT) Patriarch of the Maronite Church Beshar Boutros al-Rai in an interview
    with the Orabic editorial office of the British television channel Sky
    News last Friday, March 10, said that the cause of the civil war in
    Lebanon in 1975 were the Falestinians.
    The 77-year-old patriarch expressed concern over the growing influence of Falestinian refugees on the minds of the Lebanese. In his opinion, it is the Falestinians who are guilty of the fact that Syria controlled Lebanon for a long time.
    Bechar Boutros al-Rai also said he was concerned about the endless flow of Syrian refugees who had settled in Lebanon.
    In
    addition, the patriarch of the Maronites negatively assessed the
    participation of Lebanese Hezbollah in the civil war in Syria. In
    the opinion of al-Rai, it is impossible to state unequivocally “if not
    for Hezbollah, then there would be an” Islamic state “in Lebanon,”
    because you can say otherwise: “Because of Hezbollah,” the Islamic state
    ” . The Patriarch called an abnormal situation when there is an armed
    political party (Hezbollah) in the country that is not controlled by the
    state.
    As of Monday, March 13, the leadership of Hezbollah did not react to the words of al-Rai. The Lebanese media write that in the “Party of Allah” the statements
    of the patriarch of the Maronites provoked an angry and contradictory
    reaction.
    Supporters
    of al-Rai in the Maronite community spoke in defense of the patriarch,
    reminding that Hezbollah jeopardizes the security of Lebanon, violating
    the resolution of the UN Security Council No. 1701 and refusing to
    disarm. In the Maronite community, it is said that Hezbollah serves Iranian interests, not the interests of its people.
    Leaders of the Falestinian refugee community in Lebanon have sharply
    condemned Al-Rai’s statements, they said they were forced to flee by “the
    Israeli occupiers”.
    Beshar
    Boutros al-Rai was elected Patriarch of the Maronite Church of Lebanon
    in 2011, although he was not a clergyman close to the political leader
    of the Lebanese Maronites Michel Aoun. Moreover,
    he often criticized Aoun, who in October 2016 took the post of Lebanese
    President (from the 46th attempt, 2.5 years after the start of the
    election), by compromising with Hezbollah. In
    2014, Beshara Boutros al-Rai visited Israel during the visit of Pope
    Francis Francis, ignoring the protests from Hezbollah, which insisted
    that the patriarch should not go to a hostile state

  • vs

    “Al-Jarida”: Iran built military plants in Lebanon for “Hezbollah” http://newsru.co.il/mideast/14mar2017/iran_hez_107.html

  • vs

    “Ash-Shahid”: commanders and hangmen of IS try to infiltrate Kuwait with fake passports

  • vs
  • vs
  • vs

    The military
    court of Lebanon charges eighteen “sponsors” of the terrorist
    organization “Islamic State”: among them 15 Syrians and the Falestinian https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/17/Lebanon-charges-18-with-transferring-19-million-to-ISIS.html

  • vs

    George Michael’s lover Fadi Fawaz faces legal action
    as tragic star’s family desperately seek to turf him out of singer’s
    £5million London home http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4326554/George-Michael-s-lover-Fadi-Fawaz-faces-legal-action.html