THU 24 - 5 - 2018
Date: Apr 3, 2017
Source: The Daily Star
Lebanon: Speaker Nabih Berri says vote law deadlock 'critical'
BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri has sounded the alarm over the deadlock on the country's new electoral law, describing Lebanon's situation as "critical."

"We have a slight chance left by which we are bound to succeed in reaching a new electoral law. The coming two weeks are decisive," Berri was quoted as saying in remarks published in Al-Joumhouria newspaper Monday.

He warned of the failure to reach an agreement on a new vote law by April 15, saying: "After this deadline we will enter a more dangerous and difficult [situation]. We will have two options worse than each other- either an extension of necessity or a vacuum."

Parliament has extended its tenure twice, once in 2013 and again in 2014.

The upcoming elections were originally scheduled to take place between May 21 and June 21, yet political deadlock is expected to delay elections beyond June.

A number of politicians have anticipated a technical extension of the current parliamentary term, following a stalemate in the discussions over endorsing a new electoral law.

"I only support the technical extension of the Parliament's term if we reach an electoral law. But vacuum is a more compelling threat."

"This is not a joke," Berri was quoted as saying.

The speaker said that some of the proposed vote laws are worse than the 1960 majoritarian vote law.

He said that his ministers will take a hybrid vote law to the Cabinet soon, which calls for 60 MPs to be elected on the basis of a proportional representation and the remaining 68 MPs on a winner-take-all system.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri over the weekend expressed optimism that an agreement would be reached on a new vote law to govern the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“I do not think that we will be able to hold the elections on time because we are developing an electoral law that will remain for a long time, several elections [at least],” he said.

“We will introduce a proportional or hybrid law and this is (progress) in Lebanon. If a delay occurs, it will be technical and I am very optimistic that we will agree on an electoral law very soon.”

Berri has called for two Parliament sessions Thursday and Friday to quiz the Cabinet over its performance. Political sources said the parliamentary sessions were aimed at prodding the Cabinet to explore and approve a new electoral law proposal and send it to Parliament.

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