Geagea, Jum­blatt bury ri­valry for elec­toral law

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON - By Joseph Haboush

BEIRUT: The long­stand­ing Chris­tian-Druze ten­sion fur­ther dis­si­pated Tues­day as Le­banese Forces leader Samir Geagea voiced op­po­si­tion to any elec­toral law that didn’t meet the ap­proval of Pro­gres­sive So­cial­ist Party head MP Walid Jum­blatt.

“We will not ac­cept any new elec­toral law which is not ap­proved by the Pro­gres­sive So­cial­ist Party,” Geagea said in a state­ment on his per­sonal Twit­ter ac­count.

Geagea’s com­ments come af­ter an ar­ti­cle pub­lished by Le­banon’s AlJoumhouria news­pa­per Tues­day that quoted the PSP leader as say­ing that there were some par­ties try­ing to po­lit­i­cally marginal­ize the Druze sect.

“We [the Druze] are in a sit­u­a­tion as if we are hold­ing a state­less iden­tity which we will never ac­cept,” Jum­blatt said in the ar­ti­cle.

The Le­banese Forces for­mally re­as­sured Jum­blatt when MP Strida Geagea phoned the PSP head to in­form him of her party’s re­jec­tion of their marginal­iza­tion.

Jum­blatt and his party then wel­comed the LF’s stance.

“The PSP ap­pre­ci­ates the stances taken by Geagea, which re­flects his com­pre­hen­sion of the del­i­cate Le­banese po­lit­i­cal struc­ture that can­not up­set or en­dan­ger the pres­ence of im­por­tant and found­ing pil­lars of the na­tion,” PSP’s se­nior me­dia of­fi­cer Rami Rayess told The Daily Star.

Blast­ing the claimed marginal­iza­tion of the Druze sect, Jum­blatt said it seemed “As if a main com­po­nent of this coun­try, which is the Druze, doesn’t ex­ist.”

Re­newed dis­cus­sions on a new elec­toral law have drawn the ire of Jum­blatt, with the Druze leader pub­li­cally voic­ing his op­po­si­tion to a pro­por­tional elec­toral law.

Sep­a­rately, Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri was quoted by vis­i­tors to his down­town Beirut res­i­dence as re­spect­ing Jum­blatt’s opin­ion, say­ing that the PSP chief was an es­sen­tial com­po­nent to the na­tion and his sect. “Our con­sen­sus aims to [pla­cate] all sects, not ag­i­tat­ing them,” Hariri said. He also noted that Jum­blatt was open to di­a­logue.

Le­banese par­ties have been di­vided be­tween adopt­ing a pro­por­tional vote law or a hy­brid elec­toral law that in­cludes as­pects of the pro­por­tional and the cur­rent 1960 win­ner­take-all sys­tems.

The Free Pa­tri­otic Move­ment, Amal Move­ment and Hezbol­lah have re­peat­edly ex­pressed their sup­port for a pro­por­tional elec­toral law.

How­ever, some of­fi­cials have not ruled out the idea that elec­tions could again be held un­der the cur­rent 1960 law if no agree­ment is made in time for the vote, which is ex­pected in May if it goes ahead on time.

Geagea’s tweet drew a re­sponse from Tawhid Party chief Wi’am Wah­hab, an out­spo­ken critic of his fel­low Druze politi­cian, who asked via Twit­ter: “Do we un­der­stand that Geagea con­sid­ers the en­tire Druze sect as rep­re­sented by only Jum­blatt?”

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