Report: Aoun Determined, New Election Law Must be Agreed

Lebanese President Michel Aoun, sits at the presidential palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Oct. 31, 2016. Lebanon's parliament on Monday elected Michel Aoun, an 81-year-old former army commander and strong ally of the militant group Hezbollah, as the country's president, ending a more than two-year vacuum in the top post and a political crisis that brought state institutions perilously close to collapse. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

As political parties bicker to find a new electoral law that meets the approval of all factions, President Michel Aoun made a firm stance and assured that the upcoming parliamentary elections will not be held based on the current 1960 law and that a new law must be stipulated, al-Joumhouria daily reported Saturday.

The President’s position is firm, and was reiterated in several occasions the most recent was during an interview with Al-Arabiya television that was recorded during his presence in Riyadh, where he said: “There is a Lebanese will to pass a new law and the debate is currently revolving around which law is the best for everyone,” added the daily.

Aoun and an accompanying delegation of ministers concluded a visit to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Thursday.

The daily added, ministers in the delegation that accompanied Aoun to SA and Qatar, held sideline meetings there to deliberate the issue. It was another indication of the serious efforts to reach an agreement and the president’s will to push political forces to agree on a new electoral law.

Political parties are bickering over amending the current election law which divides seats among the different religious sects.

Hizbullah has repeatedly called for an electoral law based on proportional representation but other political parties, especially al-Mustaqbal Movement, have rejected the proposal and argued that the party’s controversial arsenal of arms would prevent serious competition in regions where the Iran-backed party is influential.

Mustaqbal, the Lebanese Forces and the Progressive Socialist Party have meanwhile proposed a hybrid electoral law that mixes the proportional representation and the winner-takes-all systems. Speaker Nabih Berri has also proposed a hybrid law.

The current parliament has failed to amend the law, and has extended its mandate twice amid criticism. New elections are scheduled for May 2017.