Electoral Law, Hizbullah Arms and Corruption Focus of Parliament’s Friday Session

The issues of the stalled electoral law, Hizbullah’s weapons and corruption were the focus of the parliamentary plenary session that was held on Friday to discuss the government’s performance.

“We have reached the brink of the abyss regarding the electoral law,” MP Alain Aoun of the Change and Reform bloc warned.

He noted that the political forces have so far failed to agree on a new electoral law due to three types of “mentalities.”

“The first mentality rejects the formation of opposition minorities inside each sect… the second fears changes to the system… and the third wants to exaggerate its political weight at the expense of others,” Aoun pointed out.

He stressed that “there will be no vote on an electoral law unless the vote conforms to the National Pact and there will be no vote on extension (of parliament’s term) unless the vote also conforms to the National Pact.”

The 1943 National Pact set the foundations of modern Lebanon as a multi-confessional state based on consensual democracy.

“We must intensify the meetings, even if that required the presence and participation of the president, the speaker and the premier. We must not wrap up the meetings without an agreement,” Aoun stressed.

MP Ali Ammar of Hizbullah’s Loyalty to Resistance bloc meanwhile warned of the possibility of reaching parliamentary vacuum.

“Vacuum would be the most dangerous crisis. In the absence of parliamentary elections and a parliament, do you think that the government and the presidency will remain (legitimate)?” Ammar cautioned, noting that vacuum would “destabilize” the country.

Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel meanwhile slammed the political forces for seeking an electoral law “tailored” to fit their interests and not the interests of the people.

“How can the government ask people to place their confidence in it as it proposes a plan containing the renting of power generation ships with a cost of around $1.9 billion?” Gemayel wondered.

MP Khaled al-Daher tackled the thorny issue of Hizbullah’s arms in his speech.

“Syrians in Homs, Qusayr and other regions are being displaced by Hizbullah’s arms, which prompts us to ask Hizbullah to withdraw from Syria so that Syrians can return home,” Daher said.

“How can we build an economy and achieve development in the presence of a political party in Lebanon that is attacking Arab states and creating terrorist groups in contravention of the State’s dissociation policy?” Daher added.

MP Ali Ammar hit back at Daher, thanking him sarcastically for his “extreme love for Hizbullah.”

“I wish him more love but I will say a brief statement: we will be where we need to be,” Ammar added, echoing previous statements by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah about the group’s presence in Syria.

At the end of the session, Prime Minister Saad Hariri responded to the stances voiced by MPs during the Thursday-Friday session, noting that “the government’s responsibility is to find a new electoral law and spare the country the risks of vacuum.”

“All political forces are focusing their efforts on finding an electoral law in a positive spirit and this positivity is still present,” Hariri said.

“We want a law that addresses the concerns related to representation,” he added.