Beirut: At least six months preparation time will be required before a Lebanese parliamentary election can be held under any new law, Interior Minister Nohad Mashnouq said on Friday.
Lebanese politicians have indicated they are close to agreeing a new parliamentary election law after months of disputes over how the polls should be conducted.
Parliament’s term is due to expire on June 20.
Machnouk was speaking in televised comments after meeting Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
Lebanon is to hold a series of extraordinary legislative sessions from June 7 to June 20 in an attempt to save the country from constitutional crisis as politicians have failed thus far to agree on a new electoral law.
President Michel Aoun signed the presidential decree for the sessions on Thursday, after a closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri and Berri.
The announcment was made on Thursday at a Ramadan Iftar banquet held at Baabda Palace that was also attended by the Progressive Socialist Party head Walid Junblatt, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and a host of political, religious and social figures.
Speaking with reporters after the Iftar, Hariri said recent talks on the law were positive but politicians have yet to iron out the details.
The new law is expected to be based on full proportional representation in 15 districts.
On his part, Walid Junblatt, leader of Lebanon’s Druze community has rejected recent ‘sectarian-based’ proposals by the Christian Free Patriotic Movement under the leadership of Jibran Bassil, also Lebanon’s foreign minister.
Junblatt says his proposals would ‘marginalise’ the Druze community in Lebanon.
Politicians have been debating revising the archaic 1960 voting law since 2005 and have yet to reach consensus.
According to the 1960 voting law, parliament seats are allocated by religious sects which Lebanon’s most prominent Christian parties want to amend.
They say the law marginalises Christian voters, because, in the winner-take-all model Muslim voters in predominantly Christian districts cast their ballots to candidates backed by lists dominated by non-Christian parties.
Last month, Aoun made the unprecedented move to suspend parliament which was due to extend its term for third time since 2009.
The move was hailed by Christians but slammed by Shiite politicians including Berri, who also is the Amal party chief.
Powerful Shiite groups like the Iran-backed Hezbollah and Amal want proportional representation or the winner-takes-all system since that would give it potential control of parliament due to its large numbers.
The parliament’s second term ends on June 20 which means the country heads for a political standoff as politicians will be forced to choose between extending the term for a third time, holding elections under the old electoral law or agreeing on a new law.