Qabbani Says Elections of Higher Islamic Council Legitimateإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani said Sunday that the controversial elections for the 32-member Higher Islamic Council were legitimate and a decision by the Shura Council to cancel the polls was not binding, as the boycotters slammed the vote as "illegitimate."
In remarks after the elections kicked off, Qabbani said: “The polls are legitimate and we are not concerned with the opinion of the Shura Council.”
“Our hand is extended to everyone,” he said. “We don't have political differences with anyone.”
Qabbani said candidates in Beirut, Sidon, Mount Lebanon, Hasbaya-Marjayoun and Akkar won contested and that the electoral battle was underway in Bekaa and Tripoli.
Later on Sunday, the boycotters of the elections held a meeting at the office of the head of the Administrative and Financial Committee Bassam Barghout in the Beirut neighborhood of Sanayeh.
“The legal quorum was not available at all polling stations, where the so-called uncontested win of certain candidates was announced,” said a statement recited by the incumbent deputy head of the council Omar Mesqawi.
“We praise everyone who boycotted this election and withdrew from the polls which can only take place through the unity of the institution,” the statement added.
The conferees called for taking “the necessary measures to put an end to violating the laws of the institutions.” They also urged former prime ministers to act and announced that the council will remain in a state of permanent convention.
The Council, which elects the mufti and organizes the affairs of Dar al-Fatwa, has been at the center of controversy after 21 of its members, who are close to ex-Premier Saad Hariri's al-Mustaqbal Movement, extended its term until the end of 2013 despite Qabbani's objection.
The mufti has refused to hold or join any meetings at Dar al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s top Sunni religious authority, and called for the elections of council members.
But last month the Shura Council allegedly deemed the call illegal and canceled the elections. Its decision followed a similar move it made last year when it canceled previous polls set by the Mufti for December 30.
Mesqawi was quoted earlier on Sunday as expressing regret for the failure of the Mufti to react positively to the Shura council's decision.
He made the last appeal for the remaining candidates to withdraw their candidacies and for voters not to participate in the electoral process.