The so-called “Orthodox Plan” on how to do the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Lebanon has been adopted by the various committees in the parliament, which led to the withdrawal of the parliamentary session the day before yesterday [Feb. 18] of the Al-Mustaqbal group, the Socialist-Progressive group, and several members of parliament. Prominent among them was Boutros Harb.
What the Orthodox are proposing is that every religious confession only vote within its own adherents. This is one of the most damaging initiatives as it fosters increasing sectarianism and further alienates groups from one another politically and electorally. It is surprising that that can take place and it is hoped that the efforts of the Speaker of Parliament can prevent this damaging recommendation from being adopted by the parliament.
The original sectarian system was divisive enough. What this leads to is further diminishing the prospects of equal citizenship in Lebanon, which has been weakened by the sectarian system and this further aggravates it at a time when Lebanon needs national unity, the empowerment of civil society and a serious review and reassessment of the political sectarianism that characterizes its present system.
This is a challenge for civil society, which in the last few days has shown a renewed vitality and I hope that they can pursue to bring about a rejection of what the Parliament initiated two days ago and to renew the urge for a parliamentary system that ensures its integrity and reinforces the idea of common citizenship and the reinforcement of national unity.
Clovis Maksoud is a former ambassador and permanent observer of the League of Arab States at the United Nations and its chief representative in the United States for more than 10 years. Maksoud served as the League of Arab States' ambassador to India and Southeast Asia from 1961 to 1966 as well as the League of Arab States' special envoy to the United States in 1974. As a journalist, Maksoud was senior editor of the daily Al-Ahram in Cairo and editor-in-chief of Al-Nahar, an Arabic-language weekly published in Beirut.