Lebanon’s Cabinet resumed debate Monday on a draft election law, including a set of electoral reforms intended for the upcoming 2013 parliamentary elections.
President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati held private talks prior to the Cabinet session , the first to take place at the presidential summer seat in Beiteddine, Mount Lebanon, this year.
Cabinet failed during two sessions in July to reach an agreement on an electoral law proposed by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel based on proportional representation. The law of 1960 adopts the qada as an electoral district and was used in the 2009 elections.
The government is also expected to address the issue of cannabis after the recent government crackdown on the cannabis fields in east Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
Charbel, who promised farmers Sunday that he would take the issue to Cabinet, hinted before he joined the session at Beiteddine that he has a new compensation plan.
“Why not do it the Turkish way?” Charbel told reporters. “The government would take the produce and sell it abroad for medical and agricultural use. We must resolve this issue because the people of this region cannot grow different types of plants in their land. "
Last week farmers in the Bekaa’s Yammouneh neighborhood targeted police and the Lebanese Army in two separate shootings linked to the eradication of cannabis fields, leaving two policeman and two soldiers wounded.
On Sunday Charbel visited Yammouneh, vowing to compensate the farmers for the eradication of their crops.
On the election law, the majority of the 30-strong Cabinet agrees on proportional representation. But MP Walid Jumblatt has outright rejected the law and his Druze Progressive Socialist Party ministers have reiterated that they would vote down any attempt to approve such a law.
Aside from the introduction of proportional representation, the draft electoral law includes several key reforms, including a quota for female participation and the creation of an independent body to oversee elections.
The Civil Campaign for Electoral Reform, which worked with the Interior Ministry to prepare the draft law, criticized the government Sunday for neglecting key sections during Cabinet discussions.
The CCER accused parties within the government of plotting agreements on administrative appointments at the expense of serious electoral reforms.