Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Lebanon: Berri-Bassil Dispute Deepens Electoral Law Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55374136

Lebanese Speaker Nabih Berri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil meet at the former’s resident in Ain el-Tineh in 2016. (NNA)

Beirut – The meetings that have been held in the past 48 hours failed to reach a breakthrough in Lebanon’s crisis over a new parliamentary electoral law.

Some circles have even said that discussions have returned to square one after Speaker Nabih Berri’s deadline to adopt the proportional representation law and approve the establishment of a senate ended.

Signs indicate that the ongoing dispute between Berri’s AMAL Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) of President Michel Aoun is a main reason that is deepening the crisis.

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil’s failure to attend a meeting at the speaker’s Ain el-Tineh residence on Sunday is evidence of this dispute. The meeting was aimed at addressing the electoral law.

The development was seen as a deterioration in ties between Berri and Bassil and consequently Berri and Aoun.

Agreement between the two sides has long been difficult to reach even though they belonged to the same political camp in different periods in the past. They have long said that their respective alliances with “Hezbollah” had brought them together.

The dispute over the electoral law has suspended efforts to prepare a memorandum of understanding between AMAL and the FPM. The memo was seen as an attempt to tackle the disputes between the two sides over a number of affairs.

FPM sources told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The suspension of the efforts will favor the understanding because we are passing through a phase that could completely destroy it.”

It revealed that this issue will be brought up again once the electoral law dispute is resolved.

Meanwhile, sources following up on efforts to reach an agreement over a new law said: “We cannot speak of any breakthrough.”

“We are closer to running around in circles even if a preliminary agreement has been reached to adopt proportional representation,” they told Asharq Al-Awsat.

On Monday, head of “Hezbollah’s” parliamentary bloc MP Mohammed Raad reiterated the party’s commitment to adopting proportional representation, saying: “We are approaching a period when this system will be adopted in full in Lebanon.”

Aoun had insisted in return that “proportionality be adopted with some amendments to ensure proper representation.”

He told his visitors on Monday that there is still time until June 19 for an agreement to be reached on a new electoral law, stressing that he is committed to “fairly and equally ensuring the rights of all the sects in Lebanon.”

Prime Minister Saad Hariri said after meeting the president that the two officials are keen on adopting a new electoral law as soon as possible.

“I believe that matters will be resolved very soon and this demands that all political powers realize that the interest of the country is more important than their own,” he added.