Beirut: Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament and Amal Party leader Nabih Berri has called on political elites to approve his electoral law proposal, according to a report published in daily Al Akhbar on Saturday. The pro-Hezbollah newspaper clarified that the proposal “will not be valid after May 15” when the next parliament session is scheduled to begin.
The proposal By Berri calls for “electing” a senate under a sectarian voting system, and a parliament under an electoral law fully based on proportional representation, a plank rejected by the leading groups.
The proposed Senate, which was envisaged by the 1989 Taif Accords that ended the 15-years long Lebanese Civil War, would include 64 members, divided equally between Muslims and Christians and would allocate its presidency to the Druze community. Foreign Minister Jibran Bassil, who is also the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, insisted that the Senate ought to be led by a Christian. Druze leaders, led by Walid Junblatt, vowed that Taif Accords meant to allocate the Senate chairmanship to their community.
Berri’s formula anticipated such a disagreement and recommended that the Senate chairmanship be allocated to the Greek Orthodox community, with the Druze being given either the deputy speaker or the deputy premier post. It is unclear whether these options are acceptable to those most affected and their partners, with the Speaker declaring that his “offer ends in a few days”. He added: “By then I will no more accept what I do now. I have relinquished some powers of the parliament, which I have acquired for many years, in order to reach solutions, but it seems some people do not want a solution”.
Proposals to revisit the anticipated creation of a Senate at this time further complicated the search for a new electoral law with the goal to replace the existing 1960 model. The Minister of Finance Ali Hassan Khalil, a top political aide to Berri, said that the only acceptable proposal after May 15 will be full-fledged proportional representation, which is rejected by most constituents.