MPs Extend Parliament's Term until 2017 amid Boycott by 2 Christian Partiesإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Lawmakers extended on Wednesday the mandate of the parliament until June 2017 amid a boycott by Christian MPs from the Free Patriotic Movement and the representatives of the Kataeb Party in the legislature.
FPM lawmakers from the Change and Reform bloc resorted to boycott while Marada Movement and Tashnag Party representatives in the bloc attended the session. But members of Marada leader Suleiman Franjieh's bloc voted for the extension as Tashnag's two lawmakers voted against it.
The draft-law on the extension of parliament's tenure for two years and seven months until June 20, 2017, which had been proposed by Zahle MP Nicolas Fattoush, received the vote of 95 MPs.
On Tuesday, FPM leader Michel Aoun, who heads the Change and Reform bloc, said his MPs reject an extension of the 128-member parliament's tenure, whose alternative is holding the parliamentary elections.
Speaker Nabih Berri had warned on several occasions that the session would undermine constitutional partnership unless key Christian blocs participated in the vote.
Fattoush suggested an extension of two years and seven months under the excuse that the elections could not be held amid a deteriorating security situation.
Despite the boycott of the FPM and Kataeb, the Lebanese Forces, another main Christian party, voted in favor of the extension, claiming that institutions would be paralyzed if MPs failed to extend their own term.
If parliamentary elections were held amid a vacuum at the helm of the country's top Christian post, the government would become illegitimate because the constitution states that the head of state should name a new prime minister to form the cabinet.
Lebanon has been without a head of state since May when Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended amid the failure of the rival MPs to elect a successor.
MP Sethrida Geagea said following the session that the LF was compelled to vote for the extension because it wants to "save the country by taking unpopular decisions.”
Centrist Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat announced a similar stance, saying the extension was aimed at averting vacuum.
But the FPM described the vote as an attempt to abolish democracy and the rotation of power.
Following an extraordinary meeting that the party's members held in Rabieh, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said: “We just witnessed a robbery in parliament.”
This was the second time parliamentarians extended their own terms, giving them a full eight years in power— double their allowed mandate.
There were attempts to thwart their move earlier Wednesday. As MPs were arriving to parliament ahead of the session, Civil Movement for Accountability (CMFA) activists staged a sit-in at an area near Nejmeh Square in downtown Beirut.
Dozens of CMFA members sought to stop the vehicles carrying lawmakers from reaching parliament.
At one point, a man climbed on a car before being dragged away by security forces.
The protesters also pelted several cars carrying lawmakers with tomatoes and eggs.