Naharnet

Aoun: March 14 Has Collapsed and Illegitimate Parliament Can't Elect Legitimate President

Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun declared Monday that the “fake March 14” camp has “collapsed,” as he reiterated that a parliament whose term is extended lacks the legitimacy to elect a “legitimate president.”

“Term extensions for certain figures or top security officials are unconstitutional and illegitimate,” said Aoun during the FPM's annual March 14 ceremony, reminiscing the political battle he fought to prevent the extension of the term of Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji.

“We will not tolerate these violations. We are secular, but until our society accepts secularism, we must accept the fact that there are decent candidates for state posts in all sects,” Aoun added.

Prior to Qahwaji's term extension, the FPM founder was reportedly seeking the appointment of then Commando Regiment chief Chamel Roukoz -- his son-in-law -- as new army commander.

“Today the problem is in the electoral law, which has created imbalance, unfairness and lack of participation in running the country … The electoral law is based on an improper sectarian distribution,” Aoun lamented.

“Christians have lived with all sects in 22 districts, which made them minorities in these districts … There is no fairness in the composition of electoral districts and we are calling for a law based on proportional representation,” he added.

Accusing rival parties of rejecting proportional representation “because it would rid us of their privileges,” Aoun stressed that “there is no legitimacy for an authority that does not draw its legitimacy from the people.”

“People are the source of authorities and I'm an unelected MP and I don't enjoy parliamentary legitimacy,” he said.

“How can a person who lacks legitimacy be able to elect a legitimate president?” Aoun asked.

“We are not demanding to amend the Taef Accord but rather to interpret it in a proper way. Where is equal representation and where is the electoral law that ensures proper representation for all components? How can you strip me of my right and ask me to respect the requirements of coexistence?”

Lashing out at the rival March 14 forces, Aoun accused them of stealing his “slogans and history” by “calling themselves March 14.”

“Today the fake March 14 (camp) has collapsed and the genuine March 14 forces have endured,” Aoun added.

He was referring to the date of March 14, 1989 when he launched what he termed a "war of liberation" against Syrian forces in Lebanon. Aoun was the commander of the Lebanese army at the time.

Turning to the issue of the long-running presidential vacuum, Aoun said: “The presidential vacuum started two years ago and we tried to rebuild the authorities. We said that the illegitimate parliament had no right to elect a president, but they wanted to elect a president before holding the parliamentary polls under the excuse of the security situation.”

Noting that “elections were held in Iraq and Syria during wartime,” Aoun charged that “bad intentions” govern the decisions of his rivals.

“They don't want (parliamentary) elections because they fear defeat,” he claimed.

“They rejected our proposals on the election of a president by the people and on holding early parliamentary polls,” Aoun recalled.

“The National Pact stipulates choosing the most popular figure as premier and the same applies for the parliament speaker, so why don't we elect the most representative president? This scenario has ended and from now on we won't accept that the Lebanese people's interest be prey to their interests,” the FPM founder warned.

Cautioning that “all types of solutions are on the table today,” Aoun vowed that his movement “won't allow the situation that has persisted since 1990 to continue.”

“Do not despair because we have the will and capabilities to achieve change with all the available means,” he added, addressing supporters.

Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and the FPM, Hizbullah and some of their allies have been boycotting the electoral sessions.

Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri launched late in 2015 a proposal to nominate Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency but his suggestion was rejected by the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.

The Hizbullah-led March 8 camp, as well as March 14's Lebanese Forces, have argued that Aoun is more eligible than Franjieh to become president given the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.

Y.R.


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