Lebanese President Michel Aoun suspended parliament for a month on Wednesday, temporarily blocking plans to extend the assembly’s term without election for the third time since 2013 to try to push politicians to agree election law reforms. Parliament was expected to vote on Thursday to extend its own mandate again until 2018, officials said. The lawmakers were elected in 2009 for what was meant to be a four-year term. The president’s move eased tensions simmering after activists had called for protests against the planned extension, which they decried as a blow to democracy. The two previous extensions triggered massive protests in central Beirut. … For years, the parties have been unable to agree on a new electoral law – resulting in parliament twice extending its own mandate, moves that critics including the European Union have condemned as unconstitutional.
Most political parties have rejected holding parliamentary elections based on the existing system, a sectarian-based electoral law that dates back to 1960. The next round of elections had previously been scheduled for May.
Some politicians say the law divides up the population into constituencies that do not fairly represent the sectarian or political preferences of their supporters. Christian lawmakers have been the most vocal in demanding a new law.