Berri Says Monday's Session Ongoing as Parliament Still has 'Full Jurisdictions'

Speaker Nabih Berri said on Saturday that the parliament is in a constant state of session in an extraordinary manner with full jurisdictions after the cabinet resigned, saying that Monday's session is still on.

“We want to set things straight... No one can prevent it from legislating, ” Berri said in a press conference from Ain el-Tineh.

He said that he is keen to preserve the constitution and the country, pointing out that only the resigned cabinet works within limited jurisdictions and not the parliament.

“We are seeking to help the state institutions to rise again,” Berri said, lashing out at those who are accusing him of paralyzing the state.

Berri said that the legislative committee in 2005 said that the parliament was in a constant state of session in an extraordinary manner with full jurisdictions. While in 2013 it told caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati that it has limited jurisdictions and can hold urgent sessions only.

Miqati had questioned the legality of the session, seeing as it is not aimed at tackling emergency issues.

“The parliament is owned by the Lebanese people and not exclusive for the Shiites,” the speaker stated.

He called on lawmakers to work on “gaining the people's trust after the parliament's mandate was extended.”

“The constitution has set several cases where the parliament can't carry out its jurisdictions, and its the only power that can prevent it from convening,” he noted

Parliament is expected to convene on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in order to tackle a number of draft-laws.

The lawmakers had extended their term for 17 months, pushing the legislative elections to November 2014.

Concerning Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun's statements that three important draft-laws were disregarded and not put on the agenda of the parliamentary session, Berri said: “Aoun has the right to state and we have the right to reply.”

“Regarding the law on those who fled to Israel, it was referred to the administrative and justice committee,” Berri said, noting that a special session was held to discuss the draft-law on the controversial Orthodox Gathering.

On the gas pipeline draft-law, Berri said that it was referred to the competent parliamentary committees.

The speaker told reporters that the parliament's bureau set next week's session agenda, which includes around 45 draft-law.

He slammed parliamentary blocs that decided to refrain from attending Monday's session, saying: “Lawmakers will be able to vote on all draft-laws, nothing was approved yet.”

Berri's decision to hold a parliamentary session next week had sparked controversy among the political foes over its constitutionality in the absence of a cabinet.

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