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Lebanon: Ball in Aoun’s Court to Solve Electoral Law Issue | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President Aoun at the Baabda Presidential Palace on Monday receives a delegation of the executive committee of Middle East Churches/ NNA

Beirut – Most political groups had thrown the ball of the electoral law in the court of Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun after signs reflecting the size of difficulties surrounding the file.

Political forces are divided between two camps: the first supports a law based on the proportional voting or a hybrid law system and this group includes parties such as the Free Patriotic Movement, Amal and Hezbollah. However, a second group is still attached to the 1960 electoral law and includes the Progressive Socialist Party and other groups that are about to announce their support for the old law, such as the Future Movement.

Meanwhile, head of the Phalange Party MP Sami Gemayel had triggered on Monday the alarm of democracy in Lebanon by pledging President Aoun to push forward towards a new electoral law before it was too late.

Sources close to Speaker Nabih Berri pledged that the file of the new electoral law would be followed up inside Parliament following the opening of the new extraordinary session this week.

However, the sources denied that Berri had decided to hold parliamentary elections based on the 1960 law. “Berri only insists that the elections be held on time, refusing any delay,” the sources said, adding that what is worse than the 1960 law is the postponement of the elections.

The sources also admitted the difficulty to agree on a new law, particularly in the presence of a certain agreement between some political parties to support the proportional system, while another group wishes to conduct the elections based on the 1960 law.

“If no agreement is reached, then parties should refer to the Taef Accord which stipulates that elections be held based on the governorates as an electoral circumscription in addition to the establishment of a House of Senators,” the sources said.

On the opposite side, Aoun’s sources responded to those who considered the ball was currently in the court of the president, saying: “This would happen had all parties agreed on one electoral law against the wishes of the president, who supports another law. But, of course, this is not the case.”

The sources said the president is against delaying the elections. Asked about the possibility of inviting political forces to sit around a table under the patronage of the president to solve the electoral law crisis, the sources said: “The idea was suggested but no decision was taken in this regard yet.”