Naharnet

Reports: Qahwaji's Term Extension on Agenda of Upcoming Parliamentary Session

Parliament's bureau will on Wednesday set the agenda for a parliamentary session that is scheduled to vote on the extension of army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji's mandate, media reports have said.

LBCI TV said the session will be held in early July.

President Michel Suleiman has said he was seeking to call for an extraordinary parliamentary session to revive discussions on a new electoral law.

The parliament extended its tenure during a session it held on May 31 – the last day of its ordinary session - after the failure of the rival parties to agree on a new vote law. The extension law became valid on June 20.

Parliament convenes twice a year in two ordinary sessions -- the first starts mid-march until the end of May and the second from the middle of October through the end of December.

Article 33 of the constitution states that the president in agreement with the prime minister may summon the parliament to extraordinary sessions by a decree that specifies the dates of the opening and closing of the sessions as well as the agenda.

An Nahar said that Speaker Nabih Berri, al-Mustaqbal movement chief Saad Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat have given their consent to the extension of Qahwaji's term which ends this September when he turns 60 – the maximum age for the post of the army commander.

Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun has opposed it and on Tuesday criticized al-Mustaqbal for seeking an extension.

Aoun said that since the post was reserved for the Maronite sect, then Christians had the priority before Hariri to give their opinion on it.

But Hariri snapped back, saying the army was not owned by one sect.


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