May 12 2012
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Nasrallah stands behind proportional representation
12 May 2012
BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah called Friday for next year’s parliamentary elections to be held on time, while voicing his party’s support for a controversial draft electoral law based on a system of proportional representation.
Referring to the possibility of a new war with Israel, Nasrallah also vowed that Hezbollah would destroy buildings in Tel Aviv if Israeli forces struck a building in the party’s stronghold of Beirut’s southern suburbs.
He said the Jewish state was entering the era of its doom.
Recalling the cost of reconstructing of thousands of war-destroyed buildings and houses in the southern suburbs, mainly with Iranian financial aid, Nasrallah said: “The hand that has rebuilt is on the trigger in order to impose a real equation: for every building destroyed in the southern suburbs, several buildings will be destroyed in Tel Aviv.”
“The era has come when we survive while they [Israelis] will be doomed to vanish,” he added.
Nasrallah called for the 2013 parliamentary elections to be held on time despite deep differences between the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance and the opposition March 14 coalition over a new electoral law and the party’s arsenal. He also called for dialogue between the feuding parties to reach agreement on a new electoral law in order to ensure fair elections.
“The elections must be held on time. This is in the interest of everyone. We are preparing to hold the elections on time,” Nasrallah said. He predicted Hezbollah would maintain its share of parliamentary seats under any law.
“We have entered a new stage. It seems that the elections have begun from now. Parliament is the most important institution. The only political elections are the parliamentary elections,” Nasrallah said. He added that the significance of an electoral law was tantamount to the significance of the elections.
Referring to the widening row between rival factions over a new electoral law, Nasrallah said: “We call for further dialogue on the issue of an electoral law. Let each one present his idea and discuss it. We support holding the parliamentary elections on time. There are people who might not want the elections, but they blame the others.”
He voiced his party’s support for an electoral law based on proportional representation. “Proportional representation is the optimal system. A proportional representation system does not eliminate anyone. It paves the way for multi-party representation for every sect,” Nasrallah said.
He added that there were Lebanese communities lacking parliamentary representation that seek an election law offering them the opportunity to participate in the legislature.
“Whether Lebanon is one district or five main ones, such a system guarantees the best chance for representation [in Parliament],” he said.
The Cabinet is still debating a draft electoral law based on proportional representation. The bill, proposed by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, has received support from President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and March 8 coalition parties but has been rejected by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, leader of the opposition Future Movement, and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt.
Nasrallah said he understood the PSP’s concerns, but claimed the Future Movement’s stance represented a desire to dominate the Sunni sect.
“The Future Movement insists on a single-party domination within the Sunni community,” Nasrallah said.
Some MPs have expressed fears that elections could be postponed if there is no agreement on a new law. But both Sleiman and Mikati have said the 2013 elections will be held as scheduled, and will not be affected by the wave of popular upheavals roiling the region.
Nasrallah scoffed at March 14 parties’ refusal to hold the elections as long as the problem of Hezbollah’s arms remain unsolved. He said the 2005 and 2009 elections were held under the shadow of Hezbollah’s arms.
He accused the Future Movement of using the May 7, 2008, street clashes between pro- and anti-government gunmen in Beirut for sectarian incitement ahead of the parliamentary elections.
“If we want peaceful elections, we must avoid incitement and this kind of sectarian speech,” Nasrallah said.
On Syria, Nasrallah accused the United States, its Western allies and Israel as well as some countries in the region of seeking to destroy Syria. “America, the West, Israel and some regional powers only seek to destroy the only supporter of the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine,” he said, referring to Damascus.
He added that Syria faced two scenarios: dialogue and reforms, or a descent into civil conflict, citing Iraq as an example.
Nasrallah didn’t touch on the impasse currently faced by the Mikati Cabinet, over legalizing extra-budgetary spending, while the prime minister earlier sounded upbeat on the issue.
“I would like to clarify that the money is available,” Mikati said during a question-and-answer session with participants in the Arab Economic Forum that ended Friday, citing positive balance-of-payment statistics from April. “We are eventually destined to find a solution for the spending problem,” Mikati said.
The Cabinet postponed during Wednesday’s meeting the discussion of Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi’s revised draft law that would authorize extra-budgetary spending of LL8.9 trillion (nearly $6 billion) to next week, as Sleiman and March 8 ministers stood firm on their conflicting attitudes on the issue.© Copyright The Daily Star 2012.
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