Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil says political parties agreed on new electoral law

June 13, 2017 10:30 pm

Lebanese Foreign Minister (AFP photo)

’s political parties have agreed to general principles of a new electoral law, the country’s foreign minister says, as the ethnically-divided country struggles to avoid a political crisis and pave the way for fresh parliamentary elections.
“Today we have reached a political agreement between the political sides,” Gebran Bassil said on Tuesday after rival parties finalized their deliberation on the law.
Elaborating on the agreed changes to Lebanon’s previous law on votes, Bassil said the code had become more proportional, especially for the representation of Lebanon’s Christian community in the parliament while it would allow Lebanese expatriates to vote in parliamentary elections.
“The big achievement for all the Lebanese was through the increase of six seats for the Lebanese in diaspora,” Bassil said, adding, “There are 15 constituencies that have improved the representation of Christians.”
Political parties also agreed to technically extend lawmakers’ mandate for one year. Election officials can also introduce magnetic voting cards that would allow voters living outside their electoral constituencies to vote at their constituency of residence, whether in Lebanon or abroad.
Proposals for granting servicemen the right to vote and dedicating a quota for women in the parliament was rejected.
Bassil hailed the changes as positive although he reiterated that the new law, which must still be passed by the cabinet and then sent to parliament, would not affect the architecture of representation on Lebanon’s political system.
“This law does not rectify representation but has taken us from one place to another,” he said.
Reports said the agreement came after representatives of main political parties, including the Free Patriotic Movement, Amal Movement, Hezbollah, Progressive Socialist Party, and Lebanese Forces held a meeting.
The agreement came after President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri agreed on the basic outlines of the law last week.
Aoun said after the Tuesday agreement between the political parties that the new law would create a parliament that would “honestly” represent the choices of the Lebanese people.
“The new electoral law is a key milestone in the national and political life in Lebanon,” Aoun said.
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