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Berri Proposes Holding Early Elections for Fears of Parliament Term Extension | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanese Parliament speaker Nabih Berri strikes his gavel at the end of a parliamentary session in parliament in Beirut, May 31, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Beirut– Lebanon’s parliamentary Development and Liberation Bloc, which is headed by Speaker Nabih Berri, submitted on Monday an urgent draft law to end Parliament’s term this year and to hold early elections before the end of 2017.

In a news conference, Berri said that holding elections before the scheduled date in May would prevent another extension of the legislature’s mandate.

The draft-law, if adopted, would shorten Parliament’s term from the original end date of May 21, 2018, to Dec. 31, 2017.

Berri justified his proposal based on fears of any emergency extension due to the adoption of the biometric card (also known as the magnetic card, an electronic card containing personal information for the voter), which is very difficult to complete before the elections in May.

The head of the Phalanges Party, MP Sami Gemayel, warned against extending parliament’s term “under different excuses”.

Addressing reporters during a press conference on Tuesday, Gemayel said: “We began to hear about the postponement of the elections under various excuses,” describing the biometric card as “scandal added to the scandals of the ruling power.”

Gemayel underlined the need to hold by-elections to fill the vacant seats in Keserouan and Tripoli and to adhere to the scheduled dates of parliamentary elections by abandoning the idea of the magnetic card and allowing the voter to use any card showing his identity.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, senior researcher at Information International, Mohammed Shamseddine, ruled out the possibility of delaying the elections, noting that actions taken by the government, especially those related to the supervision of elections and the magnetic card, were mere political deals.

“It was possible to rely on the current law for the adoption of the identity card or the passport and give time to complete the biometric cards,” he added.

Lebanese Forces Leader Samir Geagea, for his part, underlined the importance of the upcoming parliamentary elections, calling on citizens to assume their responsibilities and to vote for people capable of effecting truthful change.

“They [citizens] must realize that the key is in their hands,” Geagea said on Monday.