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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Aug 08th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Extremism In Lebanon arrow Doha Dialogue Talks - 4th Day of Talks - May 20, 2008 - Staggering
Doha Dialogue Talks - 4th Day of Talks - May 20, 2008 - Staggering PDF Print E-mail
Written by CRNews   
Tuesday, 20 May 2008


Hariri Rejects Aoun's Electoral Division Proposal, Okays Murr's

MP Saad Hariri has rejected a proposal by Free Patriotic Movement leader Gen. Michel Aoun regarding Beirut's electoral distribution, while approving that offered by MP Michel Murr, press reports said Tuesday.

They said Aoun suggested that Beirut's first constituency include eight Christian and Armenian seats from Ashrafiyeh, Rmeil and Mdawwar, while Beirut's second and third constituencies are drawn so as to allow Muslims to be elected from Islamic parliamentary blocs (11 seats).

Hariri, according to reports from Doha, rejected Aoun's proposal, but expressed willingness to "build on" an offer made by Murr which he described as "balanced."

Hariri has reportedly said Murr's offer "does not frighten anybody. On the contrary, it is reassuring."

Murr's proposal called for dividing Beirut into three constituencies such as:

-The First (250,000 voters) includes Mazraa, Musayitbeh, Zoqak al-Blat, Ain Mreisseh, Mina al-Hosn, Ras Beirut and the port area such as the 10 seats are distributed as follows: 5 Sunnis, one Shiite, one Greek Orthodox, One Druze, one Anglican and one from the minority.

-The Second (110,000 voters) includes Bashoura, Mdawwar and Saifi. Seats to be distributed as follows: 3 Armenians, one Shiite and one Sunni.

-The Third (80,000 voters) includes Ashrafiyeh and Rmeil. Seats to be distributed as follows: One Greek Orthodox, one Maronite, one Shiite and one Sunni.

Murr uncovered that Speaker Nabih Berri and Hizbullah informed him that they approved his offer. He said he got their okay during a Monday meeting.

Murr said he was entrusted by Berri and Hizbullah to discuss details of the offer with Hariri.

"I heard his (Hariri's) remarks … and we agreed to continue consultations in this regard," Murr said.

Press reports said Qatar's prime minister shuttled between the majority and the opposition late Monday with suggestions regarding the government seat ratio.

They said Qatar's emir Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani also joined the talks along with eight Arab League ministers in an effort to come up with new suggestions before holding one-on-one talks with Druze leader Walid Jumblat and MP Saad Hariri. Meanwhile, the Qatari prime minister met with Speaker Nabih Berri.

Beirut, 20 May 08, 09:15



Samir Geagea - Doha Qatar - Dialogue Talks 3rd Day - May 19, 2008


Opposition Rejects Arab Proposals to Settle the Lebanon Dispute

Crisis talks between rival Lebanese leaders stumbled towards a Wednesday deadline as the Hizbullah-led opposition rejected Arab proposals to end a political feud that nearly drove the country to a new civil war.

MP Ali Hassan Khalil, member of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's AMAL Movement, said the opposition regards the two proposals by the Arab ministerial committee as non-existing.

An Arab mediating committee, chaired by Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-Thani, "has agreed to give time until tomorrow," an official of host country Qatar said on Tuesday, the fifth day of tense talks.

"One of the two parties asked today for more time to respond" to two proposals put forward by the committee to break the deadlock, Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud told reporters in Doha.

He did not say who had sought the extension, but a delegate of the Western-backed government told AFP the extra time had been demanded by the opposition, which is backed by Iran and Syria.

MP Antoine Zahra of the Lebanese Forces accused the Hizbullah-led opposition of seeking to usurp the Christians and Sunni Muslims of their right to elect their representatives in Beirut.

Hizbullah MP Hussein Hajj Hassan accused the majority of trying to win the 2009 parliamentary elections in May 2008.

Qatar had put forward a compromise proposal calling for an immediate parliamentary vote to elect Lebanon's army chief General Michel Suleiman as president and the formation of a unity government while postponing talks on a proposed new electoral law.

Ex-MP Ghattas Khoury, a member of the majority delegation to the Doha talks, insisted that no elections can be held unless weapons were put under state control.

The opposition refused to put off discussion of the disputed electoral law, and insisted on getting a "blocking minority" in a proposed unity government.

According to the government delegate, a second proposal suggested a return to an electoral law adopted in 1960, which is no longer in force. That would require amendments to disputed constituency boundaries in the capital Beirut -- the bedrock of support for Sunni parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri.

Rival parties aim at securing as many as possible of the capital's 19 seats in the 128-member parliament.

The two proposals converged in offering the opposition a long-demanded "blocking minority" of 11 ministers in the cabinet and calling for a vote on Suleiman immediately, said the delegate, requesting anonymity.

The majority would get 16 ministers, while three neutral ministers would be named by the new president, he added.

The two sides had previously agreed on Suleiman as a consensus candidate to succeed Emile Lahoud, who stepped down at the end of his term in November.

But differences over the makeup of a new unity government and proposed changes to the electoral law have so far blocked his election.

During a meeting in the Saudi city of Dammam on Tuesday, heads of state of the Saudi-led six-member Gulf Cooperation Council urged the Lebanese foes to reach a deal and backed Qatar's efforts in bringing them together, the GCC secretary general said.

The 18-month-old deadlock erupted into bitter sectarian fighting earlier this month that saw 65 people killed and during which Hizbullah and its Shiite allies briefly seized Sunni areas of mainly Muslim west Beirut.

The proposed changes to the electoral law could prove decisive in determining the outcome of parliamentary elections due next year.

Qatar has also proposed including a clause in the final statement of the talks requiring all sides to renounce any new resort to armed violence in internal disputes.

Disagreements over Hizbullah's large arsenal also proved a stumbling block in the talks, with government representatives insisting that it be on the agenda and the Shiite militant group saying the issue is not up for discussion.

Hizbullah was the only group not required to disarm after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. It has always tried to justify the exemption as a means to defend the country against Israel, with which it fought a devastating 2006 war.(Naharnet-AFP) 
Beirut, 20 May 08, 20:00


Live Coverage - 4th Day of Meetings, 5th Day in Qatar - May 20, 08

Live Coverage   Doha Dialogue Enters Day Five
5:35 MP Ali Hassan Khalil said the opposition regards the two proposals by the Arab Ministerial committee as non-existing.
5:00 Majority representatives in Doha said they respond positively to the Arab proposals if accepted by the opposition
3:26 Hizbullah MP Hussein Hajj Hassan also said the Beirut election constituencies are the focal point of difference with the majority. charging that the majority wants to win the 2009 elections in Beirut in May 2008.
3:20 MP Antoine Zahra told LBC in Doha the Beirut election constituencies are the focal point of difference with the Hizbullah-led opposdition.
3:15 Mp Hagop Pakradonian said the Hizbullah-led opposition rejected a proposal by the majority regarding election constituencies in Beirut because it is not balanced.
3:00 Representatives of the March 14 forces are holding a meeting in Doha.
2:50 The Arab Committee set Wednesday a deadline for Lebanese leaders to agree on a settlement.
2:42 Ahmad Bin Abdallah al-Mahmoud, Qatari state minister for Foreign Affairs, said the Arab Committee proposed two settlements so that Lebanese leaders would chose one of them.
1:48pm An opposition source to NBN: The opposition refuses to return to Beirut until an agreement is reached.
1:40pm Qatar's prime minister arrived at Sheraton hotel-Doha where he will be meeting with leaders from both the majority and the opposition ahead of the expected press conference.
12:55pm Qatar's PM is likely to put forth at the press conference a draft accord based on the immediate election of Gen. Suleiman, agreement on formation of the government on a 16-11-3 formula and finally approval of an amended 1960 electoral law.
12:25pm Arab League official Hisham Youssef to NBN: Today is a decisive day for Doha talks. Either it ends in failure or success.
12:15pm Voice of Lebanon: An MP from the March 14 coalition discussed with the Arab ministerial committee the latest developments.
11:18am Voice of Lebanon: Amr Moussa is meeting with MP Saad Hariri over the issue of Hizbullah arms and guarantees the group would not use its weapons in internal disputes.
11:12am De Freij: Bassil's statement, however, made me pessimistic.
11:10am MP Nabil de Freij to New TV: The majority was in an optimistic mood this morning and I learned that Hariri showed a positive reaction during the meetings which lasted until daybreak.

11:00am A Lebanese source attending the Doha talks told AFP that separate Qatar-sponsored meetings are being held with the warring Lebanese leaders in a last attempt to salvage the dialogue.
 10:00am A symbolic sit-in was staged along Beirut airport highway as part of a "No to War" campaign.
 9:15am Voice of Lebanon: Meetings behind closed doors are taking place in Doha in an effort to bring the views of the warring Lebanese leaders closer.
 8:00am As Safir: MP Michel Murr proposed ways regarding Beirut's electoral distribution, a move that was quickly approved by the opposition while the majority asked for time to review it.
 7:45am As Safir daily: The ruling majority approved giving the opposition veto power provided that anti-government leaders facilitate Beirut's electoral distribution.
 7:40am An Nahar: The ruling majority believed the opposition took matters back to square one and held a meeting with Sheik Jassem to express its reservation over the opposition's statement.
 7:35am Press reports: Qatar's Emir held two rounds of talks overnight with Druze leader Walid Jumblat and MP Saad Hariri, while the Qatari PM met with Speaker Nabih Berri.
 7:30am An Nahar daily: Qatar's prime minister, in a meeting with anti-government Lebanese leaders following the opposition's statement, expressed strong exasperation over what has happened.
 7:10am Press reports: Qatar's prime minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa will hold a joint press conference at 2 pm Tuesday.
 7:00am Al-Mustaqbal daily: Qatar's Emir stepped in once again and held a series of meetings that lasted until midnight.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 20 May 2008 )
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