Berri Laments Opposition Boycott of Parliament’s Meeting as EDL Contract Workers Crisis Soarsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The Parliament's Bureau Committee failed to convene on Thursday as the March 14-led opposition MPs boycotted the meeting pending a “comprehensive solution.”
MTV channel said that the opposition is demanding a solution for the parliament’s approval of Electricite du Liban’s contract workers’ full-time employment as political tensions soared over the controversial issue.
Speaker Nabih Berri meanwhile told reporters that the March 14 MPs had demanded that a meeting for the Parliament Bureau Committee be held.
“They asked for the meeting and they did not attend, which is wrong,” he stated.
He added that the MPs had requested the postponement of the meeting after news broke out of the failed assassination attempt against MP Butros Harb.
“There is no boycott, but I was asked to postpone the meeting,” he explained.
Berri stressed that he has been committed to parliament work for 20 years.
“Whoever wants a problem is free to create one, but I am committed to the constitution,” he declared.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea had earlier stated that the March 14 MPs’ boycott is “an expression of their opposition to the way matters are being managed at parliament.”
He made his remarks after holding talks with deputy Speaker Farid Makari.
“The only solution lies in reviewing the functioning of constitutional institutions, and in this case, parliament,” he noted.
Earlier, parliamentary sources told As Safir newspaper that the committee will endorse the minutes of Monday’s parliamentary session, as the majority of the members have voiced their support to the draft law on the contract workers.
If the committee failed to approve the session’s minutes then the draft law would lose its grounds and become annulled.
According to al-Liwaa newspaper, consultations are ongoing between the March 14 forces and the March 8 coalition, separately, in an attempt to maintain the alliances intact.
Sources close to the March 14-led opposition accused Berri of mismanaging the parliamentary session as the cabinet failed to defend the proposal suggested by Energy Minister Jebran Bassil and didn’t object on the draft law.
According to al-Liwaa daily, a meeting was held on Wednesday between al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Ahmed Fatfat, Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan and MP Marwan Hamadeh to agree on a united stance for the March 14 alliance.
Hamadeh told As Safir newspaper that the coalition will discuss the available options to resolve the crisis.
“It would be better if we take the issue back to the parliament to resolve it away from any complications,” he said.
The solutions are based on three main options, As Safir newspaper reported. The first is voting again on the draft law at the parliament, which Berri has previously rejected, the second the possibility that President Michel Suleiman would refuse to ink the parliaments’ approval of the workers’ permanent employment or thirdly, challenging the draft law before the Constitutional Council.
Suleiman said on Wednesday that the parliament’s draft law wasn’t referred to him yet.
“I will study it; if it includes any gaps then we will discuss them… I can refer it back to the parliament and refuse to sign it which falls into my jurisdictions,” he pointed out.
The president is entitled not to sign the draft law and refer it back to the parliament; the matter then will have to be discussed by the Constitutional Council, which was established to supervise the constitutionality of laws.
However, the Council can also return the draft law back to deputies.
On Tuesday, Berri decided to suspend the legislative session after the Change and Reform bloc, the Phalange party, Lebanese Forces, Ashrafiyeh and Zahle MPs boycotted the session to protest the parliament’s approval of EDL contract workers’ full-employment.
The Christian MPs argue that the permanent employment of those workers would destabilize the sectarian balance at EDL as around 80 percent of them belong to non-Christian sects and most of them support Berri, who is a Shiite.