Constituent Assembly: 'Coup' Bid or Urgent Need to Improve System?إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
After the presidential void that paved the way for the 1989 Taef Accord, which reined in the president's powers, and after the presidential vacuum that brought the Doha Agreement in the wake of the May 7, 2008 incidents, it seems that some political forces have started considering the idea of holding a constituent assembly that would reshape the Lebanese political system.
The current presidential vacancy could be the argument that these forces might utilize in order to openly declare their support for such a proposal.
While some parties have recently said that they see an urgent need for a constituent assembly, others have described it as a “coup” attempt that would undermine the current political system that was established decades ago.
“Mulling the possibility of holding a constituent assembly would undermine all the formulas upon which Lebanon – the country and the message – was built,” Kataeb bloc MP Elie Marouni said, warning that it would “nullify the idea of the state, as if all of Taef's stipulations had never existed.”
“First of all, I reject the very idea of the constituent assembly, and secondly, I reject it amid the presence of Hizbullah's arms,” Marouni told Naharnet, noting that “it is unacceptable to discuss the Contitution amid the presence of a group carrying weapons and practicing hegemony against the other camp.”
“Are we a country that is still under construction? We have already established a country and we have been independent since 1943,” the MP added.
Asked whether such a constituent assembly would be an opportunity to introduce constitutional reforms rather than toppling Taef, Marouni said “it is possible to reach constitutional amendments through a dialogue at the parliament, which means through an agreement among everyone, not through the assembly which negates the concept of the state.”
Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces official Eddy Abi Lamaa also rejected the idea of holding a constituent assembly, telling Naharnet that it “will only lead to the country's destruction, especially amid the presence of Hizbullah's weapons.”
He noted that “the assembly would allow them to modify anything they want in the Lebanese system,” saying such a move can only be aimed at “redistributing authorities in Lebanon.”
“This assembly seeks to reallocate authorities according to new equations in order to impose a new state of affairs and through it they want to take what they believe are their rights at the expense of the other sects,” Abi Lamaa added.
Wondering why “the Taef Accord has not been implemented in the first place,” the LF official said “amid failure to implement the Taef, this assembly would be an attempt to evade principles that we had agreed on in the past but were never implemented due to the Syrian occupation which had undermined the Taef Accord.”
“We do not need a constituent assembly as much as we need to implement the Constitution as it is now. They are speaking of a constituent assembly while refusing to implement the Constitution through the election of a president,” Abi Lamaa lamented.
“Why do they want to hold a constituent assembly? For the sake of whom? You are not implementing the current Constitution so how do you want to amend it? Is it because you have a surplus of power and want to empower a sect at the expense of another? The Constitution had stipulated equal power-sharing (between Christians and Muslims) so why should it be changed?” the LF official went on to say.
For his part, Dr. Elias Abou Assi, political science professor at the Saint Joseph University, said “the very idea of the constituent assembly represents a coup endeavor and a sort of a plot to destroy the foundations upon which Lebanon is built.”
“The circumstances do not allow a constituent assembly and it is unjustified even if the intentions are honest, because we have the Taef Accord which has become our Constitution,” Abou Assi told Naharnet.
“We cannot begin a constituent assembly as if there is no Constitution nor state institutions,” the professor stressed.
But he noted that “any group can suggest improving the system or fixing gaps and defects, and reforms can be proposed through a draft law, which is something everyone would welcome.”
According to Abou Assi, remarks raising the possibility of holding a constituent assembly “do not carry any honest intentions.”
Noting that he cannot give the proposal “any extenuating reasons,” Abou Assi underlined that “the Taef Accord must be implemented and then it would be improved through practice.”
“Laws are affected by the balance of power and we all know today who is the strongest and who is capable to impose what they want through weapons,” the political science professor added.
Contacted by Naharnet, MP Nawwaf al-Moussawi of Hizbullah's Loyalty to Resistance bloc declined to give any comment over the topic.
Meanwhile, Change and Reform bloc MP Alain Aoun rejected to depict the idea as “a toppling of the political system and an endorsement of trilateral power-sharing.”
“Any move to improve the system through consensus among the Lebanese should not be scary,” Aoun said, refusing to “approach the topic as if we're in a war and someone is seeking to make gains, as things are not like this.”
But the MP added: “We have reached a dead end in our political system, which requires amendments.”
“Constitutional amendments would come in the same manner of the Taef Accord, which did not involve everyone and therefore lacked balance,” Aoun added.
“Even if the Taef Accord is good in principle, the implementation has not been correct,” Aoun told Naharnet.
The idea of holding a constituent assembly was raised by Hizbullah Secretary-General two years ago, during a ceremony commemorating the 23rd death anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“Why don't we form a constituent assembly elected by the people -- not on a sectarian or regional basis but on the basis of competency -- in order to discuss all options. Let it discuss the Taef Accord, a new social contract or a non-sectarian system,” he said.
“I call for a serious discussion during national dialogue on how to build a real state and I call on the president (Michel Suleiman) to discuss the possibility of holding a national conference in Lebanon or rather a constituent assembly,” said Nasrallah.
Recently, the idea was again floated by Arab Tawhid Party leader Wiam Wahhab, who voiced support for holding a constituent assembly while emphasizing that it must preserve equal power-sharing between Christians and Muslims.
For his part, Lebanese Democratic Party leader MP Talal Arslan has lately said that “the Lebanese political system has only become capable of stirring seditions and robbing people.”
“The Taef Accord was the first victim of lying and hypocrisy,” Arslan added.