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President Sleiman urges end of religion-based politics

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-11-22

President Michel Sleiman has called on Lebanese lawmakers to work toward the end of "confessionalism in politics". Lebanese governments are traditionally based on power-sharing deals between the country’s different religious groups.

AFP - President Michel Sleiman called in a television speech on Saturday for the establishment of a committee to work towards the abolition of religion-based politics in Lebanon.

"To encourage vast participation (in political life), a national committee should be established and charged with abolishing confessionalism in politics," he said in a speech marking Sunday's 66th anniversary of independence.

Sleiman also proposed "changing the electoral law relating to general elections in order to obtain better representation and restore to expatriates their rights, including nationality and the right to vote."

In line with the current power-sharing system in Lebanon, the president is a Maronite Christian, the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim and the prime minister a Sunni Muslim.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of murdered ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, announced the formation of his new government more than four months after his US- and Saudi-backed alliance defeated a Hezbollah-led bloc backed by Syria and Iran in a general election.

His 30-member cabinet is composed of 15 seats for his coalition, 10 for Hezbollah's camp, and five for Sleiman appointees.

Date created : 2009-11-22

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