Change and Reform Defends Direct Elections Proposal, Says it Helps 'Marginalized' Christiansإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan snapped back at critics on Friday, claiming a proposal for direct presidential elections is constitutional and aimed at boosting the role of Christians in governance.
“The problem in the election of the president is not in the lack of quorum but the unconstitutional practice of politics,” said Kanaan during a press conference he held at parliament to brief reporters on a draft-law that his bloc proposed on Thursday.
“The Christians have been marginalized because they are being elected by people from outside their sects,” the lawmaker said.
“An electoral draft-law based on proportionality should have been adopted in 2013 to lead to the election of a president in 2014,” Kanaan said about the failure of the legislature to agree on the draft-law, leading to the extension of parliament's tenure until November 2014.
Lebanon's top Christian post was left vacant in May this year when the rival MPs failed to elect a successor to President Michel Suleiman over their differences on a compromise candidate.
The majority of the March 8 alliance's MPs, including the Change and Reform bloc, boycotted the sessions aimed at electing a head of state, causing lack of quorum.
But Kanaan said there was now the opportunity to abide by the National Pact - the 1943 power-sharing agreement that allowed the president to be a Maronite, the speaker a Shiite and the prime minister a Sunni.
The MP stressed that under the new proposal, the president would be elected by the people in two rounds.
In the first round, only Christians would vote for the candidates. And in the second, the polls would be held at the level of the entire nation to pave way for both Muslims and Christians to choose the two candidates who received the majority of votes in the first round.
Direct elections need the amendment of clause 2 of article 49 of the constitution, which “consolidate democracy and the rotation of power,” said Kanaan.
He also stressed that such an amendment does not transform Lebanon's parliamentary system into a presidential system.
“The proposal is the permanent solution for the deadlock,” Kanaan stated.
Clause 2 of Article 49 says: “The President of the Republic shall be elected by secret ballot and by a two-thirds majority of the Chamber of Deputies.”
In earlier remarks to An Nahar daily, Kanaan described it as a “technical” clause that is not linked to the president's authorities.“On the contrary, it is the best way to respect the Taef accord,” he said.
The proposal has been totally rejected by Change and Reform bloc Michel Aoun's rivals in the March 14 alliance.
Al-Mustaqbal MP Ahmed Fatfat told LBCI that the bloc's move “is not serious and is unacceptable under the current circumstances.”
“It differentiates among citizens,” he said.
Another member of al-Mustaqbal bloc, MP Assem Araji said the proposal is aimed at “striking the constitution and the Taef accord, which has so far not been fully implemented.”
“It would have been better for the Change and Reform bloc to head to parliament to elect a president,” he told Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5).
Kataeb MP Elie Marouni expressed similar views. He told MTV that instead of making his proposal, Aoun should head to parliament to elect a head of state and fill the vacuum.
As for Aoun's allies in the March 8 alliance, An Nahar quoted the camp's officials as saying that they were “not at ease with the proposal.”
The officials, who were not identified, did not give further details.