Political Crisis Expected to Worsen over Parliament's Termإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Lebanon's presidential crisis has already spilled over into parliament, which has failed to hold legislative sessions, but is now threatening to extend its term for a second time despite Speaker Nabih Berri's rejection.
Berri said in remarks published in several newspapers on Wednesday that the parliamentary polls should be held based on the current law if lawmakers failed to agree on a new draft-law.
Last year, the parliament extended its term to November 2014 after the rival MPs were unable to reach an agreement on a new law to govern the elections.
Berri said that some parties were taking the deteriorating security situation as an excuse to extend the legislature's four-year tenure for a second time.
“When the first extension was made, I backed the move because there was a war in (the northern city of) Tripoli and (Salafist cleric Sheikh) Ahmed al-Asir was in (the southern city of) Sidon,” he told his visitors.
But the speaker stressed that the situation is much better. He admitted there are fears of terrorist attacks but the current conditions allow to organize the elections.
Asked by his visitors how the polls could be held in the absence of a president, Berri said: “The last Sunday before November 20 is the final date to hold the elections.”
“But we should elect a president before that,” he said.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 25. The March 8 and 14 alliances were unable to choose a successor to Michel Suleiman over their differences on a compromise candidate.
Their rivalry spilled over into parliament which has failed to hold sessions over the boycott of several blocs that claimed MPs cannot legislate amid a vacuum at Baabda Palace.
Al-Mustaqbal MP Atef Majdalani, whose bloc voted for the 17-month extension last year, told As Safir newspaper that al-Mustaqbal calls for holding the presidential polls first and then preparing for the general elections.
“But we will study the matter if the situation changes this stance,” he said in a vague hint that al-Mustaqbal would back another extension.
As Safir also quoted high-ranking Progressive Socialist Party officials as saying that the general elections cannot be held amid difficult security conditions, caused by terrorist attacks.
The officials from MP Walid Jumblat's party warned that the failure to extend parliament's term amid differences between March 8 and 14 on a presidential candidate would lead to a total vacuum in all institutions.
Meanwhile, parliament's failure to legislate is threatening the payment of salaries of civil servants.
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil has said that the cabinet should take a decision to make the payments because Lebanon has been without an official budget since 2005.
Berri told his visitors that the parliament should then meet to approve the decree on the salaries.
“But some parties are insisting on paralyzing it,” he said.