Beirut: A few days after Lebanon President Michel Aoun suspended all parliamentary activities for a month, the publicly lauded but privately condemned decision garnered fresh controversies, as Speaker Nabih Berri hailed the Maronite Patriarch Mar Bisharal Al Rai’s latest position on the electoral law.
The powerful patriarch considered the controversial 1960 electoral law as the best available alternative to resolve the country’s ongoing political crisis, and prevent granting another extension to the present parliament.
Berri criticised the latest hybrid electoral law format proposed by Free Patriotic Movement chief Gibran Bassil, who has asked his ally Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea to give it a “chance”, after the LF and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt voiced reservations about it.
Jumblatt lashed out at the proposal, which involves sectarian voting in the first round, as “divisive” and the product of a “sick mentality”. A similar idea was initially proposed by Nabih Berri several months ago, but it was no longer deemed useful.
The latest proposal regarding the electoral law would see voting taking place in the current 26 districts with voters only allowed to vote for candidates from their own sects. Two candidates for each sectarian seat would thus qualify for the second round during which voting would take place in 10 newly-defined electoral districts and according to a non-sectarian proportional representation polling system.
Hezbollah and Amal (the Speaker’s party) continue to insist on full proportional representation, although Cardinal Al Rai’s latest pronouncements that was deemed to be “rational” by the Speaker, reiterated that the only available alternative to extension, is the re-endorsement of the 1960 law. “When the patriarch says that the 1960 law is the alternative to the parliament extension, this means that it is also an alternative to political vacuum,” clarified Berri, who further said that “a law [can] only be annulled through another law”.