Khalil Accuses Miqati of 'Overthrowing Taef' as Caretaker PM Says MPs Mustn't Exercise 'Full Powers'

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Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati on Saturday questioned how the parliament “can take an independent decision to exercise all its constitutional rights in the presence of a caretaker cabinet.”

“It is not possible for the parliament to hold a legislative session and exercise all its constitutional rights when there is a caretaker cabinet,” Miqati stressed in a released statement in which he responded to Speaker Nabih Berri's press conference on Saturday afternoon.

“Our position regarding the parliamentary session on Monday stems from our understanding of clause 3 of article 69 of the constitution,” Miqati remarked.

Praising the “speaker's keenness on basing the discussion on legal and constitutional grounds, away from political and sectarian lineups,” Miqati explained: “The article stipulates that in the presence of a caretaker cabinet, the parliament is in a constant state of session in an extraordinary manner until a new council of ministers is formed.”

Meanwhile, clause 2 of article 64 says that a caretaker cabinet does not exercise its full powers, he added.

“A caretaker cabinet cannot be questioned before the parliament as it has lost its constitutional presence; It is no longer in charge of the executive power and it cannot defend the draft laws that it had referred to parliament, or give its opinion in the laws presented by the lawmakers.”

Miqati assured that the parliament “cannot hold a general legislative session without the presence of a cabinet and a prime minister.”

“The separation of powers between the legislative and the executive authorities means that there should be balance and cooperation between the bodies,” he pointed out. “A cooperation should take place especially in legislation.”

He emphasized that “extraordinary parliamentary sessions mentioned in the law aim at giving a constitutional character to meetings during which the lawmakers are meant to discuss the cabinet's policy statement and give it the vote of confidence.”

“What confirms this is that the extraordinary session are only held until the cabinet receives the confidence vote,” Miqati said referring to clause 3 of article 69 of the constitution.

Speaker Berri had announced in a press conference earlier on Saturday that Monday's session is still on, considering that the parliament is in a constant state of session in an extraordinary manner with full jurisdictions after the cabinet resigned.

He explained that he is keen to preserve the constitution and the country, pointing out that only the resigned cabinet works within limited jurisdictions and not the parliament.

Berri said that the legislative committee in 2005 said that the parliament was in a constant state of session in an extraordinary manner with full jurisdictions. While in 2013 it told caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati that it has limited jurisdictions and can hold urgent sessions only.

However, Miqati explained that precedents required a parliamentary session due to “extraordinary situations at a particular moment in history that the parliament had to face.”

“These precedents have an exceptional character.”

Miqati went to to remark that the presence of a caretaker cabinet “does not mean that legislative and executive bodies should stop doing their job”: “They continue doing their role taking into consideration the necessity for the work-flow to continue in the state's public sector, of preserving stability and security, protecting the economy and facing extraordinary situations.”

“But when a cabinet is not constitutionally and politically present, the state's bodies cannot continue legislating.”

Berri's adviser MP Ali Hasan Khalil responded to the caretaker PM's statement later on Saturday, accusing Miqati of “overthrowing the Taef accord.”

“Miqati has clearly ignored what his cabinet did in 2005 and in the past weeks,” Khalil said in a released statement, stressing that “no party can prevent the parliament from doing its legislative job.”

He asked: “Is Miqati's statement an attempt to overthrow the Taef accord?”

“We call on him (Miqati) to closely examine the constitution's articles.”

The Lebanese Forces and independent March 14 MPs announced on Saturday their boycott of next week's three-day parliamentary session.

MP Butros Harb announced on behalf of the independent lawmakers their rejection of the parliament's agenda and their questioning of the legality of the session.

The parliament is expected to convene on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in order to tackle a number of draft-laws.

The lawmakers had extended their term for 17 months, pushing the legislative elections to November 2014.

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