Berri says some parties are trying to disrupt upcoming elections


Berri - don't mess with meLebanon Speaker Nabih Berri  stressed to his  visitors a his residence that the electoral law would not be amended, because any changes would risk jeopardizing the elections, a statement from his office said.

On Wednesday he was quoted as  saying  that attempts had been made to disrupt the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Berri’s comments came after a ministerial committee tasked with implementing the new electoral law failed Tuesday to make any progress over areas of disagreement. The rival groups represented in the committee held firm to opposing positions regarding the voting mechanism that should govern the elections

Al-Akhbar daily reported on  that the Speaker insists on having the elections staged on time, noting “discussions to introduce any amendments or reforms to the law could foil the whole elections. I have info that some, internally and abroad, do not want the elections be held,”

The  elections are scheduled on May 6, 2018. Even though the new complex electoral law was approved in July 2017, suggestions to introduce reforms surfaced lately four month before the polls date.

Ain el-Tineh sources stressed that Berri “is keen on good relations with President Michel Aoun and PM Saad Hariri,” after the latest spat over a decree granting one-year seniority to several officers.

The  issues discussed in the committee’s meeting were voter pre-registration and the establishment of so-called mega centers, which would allow voters to cast their ballots in their areas of residence instead of the areas where they were born

The committee was divided between those who maintain there is still time to establish the mega centers and those who believe it is now too late to do so prior to the date set for the elections, May 6.

Berri  reportedly said Wednesday that establishing mega centers would require 11 amendments to the electoral law.

“Such amendments today would open the door for the elections [to be jeopardized], and this is something that we will never allow to happen,” Berri was quoted as saying .

In a news conference Tuesday, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil accused certain groups of using “technical pretexts” to abandon reforms proposed in the electoral  law.

Speaking after chairing the weekly meeting of the Change and Reform bloc, Bassil said that dropping electoral reforms would lead to challenges to the election results.

Sources told MTV Wednesday that a rift between President Michel Aoun and Berri over a controversial decree promoting Army officers was being exploited by unspecified groups to compromise the electoral process

Berri and Aoun are at loggerheads over the decree, which promotes a number of officers who served under Aoun’s command in the 1980s. Berri insists that it should be signed by the Finance minister while Aoun dsiagrees.

Neither Aoun nor Berri have backed down from their opposing stances on the decree.

Hezbollah which is allied with both Berri and Aoun is trying to avoid taking sides in the dispute , but

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai on Friday backed   Aoun’s stance on the  disputed decree .

“The seniority decree is not related to finance… whereas the promotions decree entails financial obligations and requires the finance minister’s signature,” said Rai after talks with Aoun in Baabda.

“If there are good intentions, the problem can be solved in one meeting. This is what we are hoping for”, the patriarch added.