Lebanon’s Orthodox Gathering vote law ‘cannot pass’: PM Mikati

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A law stipulating that Lebanese citizens vote for candidates of their own sect, “cannot” be adopted for the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections this year, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Saturday.

The Orthodox Gathering law, which was approved earlier this week by the country’s parliamentary committees, still needs to be passed in a parliament vote to be adopted.

“The Orthodox proposal for the parliamentary elections cannot pass because it violates the essence of Lebanon's existence and mutual coexistence,” the prime minister posted on Twitter.

The prime minister voiced fears that the Orthodox proposal will incite sectarian divisions in the country.

According to the draft law, which has been endorsed by Christian political parties and the March 8 alliance, each sect would elect its own MPs with the country as a single district.

Mikati called on all rivals to agree over another law that protects the country’s coexistence, according to a report by The Daily Star Lebanon.

“We must all think of ways to achieve real representation for all Lebanese sects through reaching an agreement on an electoral law that does not harm coexistence,” another tweet read.

“The Lebanese Civil War failed to impose division among the people because they insisted on coexistence and overcoming their differences,” said Mikati.

“Are we required today to give in to another type of division or federalism?” he asked.

“If the apparent aim behind the Orthodox proposal is to give sects their rights [for fair representation], what it really does is strike the Lebanese unity,” the prime minister said.

The draft law proposal, which was widely disregarded by Lebanese politicians in late 2011, was immediately rejected by President Michel Suleiman and drew criticism from the Future Movement and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt. Suleiman has indicated that he would challenge the law in court.

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