05/04/2005, 00.00
LEBANON
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President Lahoud calls for a new electoral law

Prime Minister Mikati today begins his visit to Damascus. UN envoy says he is satisfied with Syrian pullout.

Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Lebanese President Émile Lahoud wrote to the National Assembly asking for a new electoral law, whilst Prime Minister Najib Mikati is making the first visit by a Lebanese leader to Damascus after the withdrawal of Syrian troops. The United Nations envoy, Senegalese General Elhadji Mouhamadou Kanji, said he is satisfied with Syrian pullout.

In his letter sent yesterday, Mr Lahoud urges the members of the National Assembly to adopt a law that would "better express the popular will". This, he writes, cannot be guaranteed by the existing law, imposed by the Syrians in 2000, which, in his view, can only lead "to political instability in the country" and "discrimination based on regional representation".

A few days ago, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir had also spoken out against the existing law, saying that he was "deeply sorry" that the old electoral law was still going to be used since it "is not in the interests of the Lebanese".

President Lahoud justified his letter, saying that "since the 2000 law is still in place causing deep divisions in the population, and since a new law has not been adopted, it became necessary for me to send this letter to the Assembly"; otherwise, he believes the May 29 elections will occur under the 2000 law.

On his arrival in Damascus, Prime Minister Mikati did not make any statement. In his meeting with Syrian President Bachar al-Assad he will certainly discuss bilateral issues in the wake of Syrian troop pullout.

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