Gemayel Meets al-Rahi: 'Bizarre' Proposal to Amend Constitution for Presidential Polls Isn't Viable

Head of the Kataeb Party Amin Gemayel revealed on Friday that he had proposed 25 years ago that direct presidential elections be held in Lebanon, while deeming the Change and Reform bloc's current proposal on the matter as a distraction.

He said: “Direct presidential elections were viable 25 years ago, but not today.”

He made his remarks after holding talks at Bkirki with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi.

Moreover, Gemayel added: “Some sides are making these bizarre proposals to amend the constitution at a time when we should be holding the elections at parliament.”

He criticized the Hizbullah and Change and Reform blocs' boycott of parliamentary electoral sessions, saying that they are harming the highest Christian position in Lebanon at a time when Christians are being persecuted by Islamist extremists in the region.

“We should be safeguarding the presidency seeing as Lebanon is the only country in the region that enjoys a Christian president,” he stressed.

“Direct presidential elections will have destructive repercussions on Lebanon and will betray the post of the presidency,” Gemayel declared

He instead urged Hizbullah and the Change and Reform blocs to take the initiative and end their boycott, revealing that al-Rahi will launch an initiative to that end.

The Change and Reform bloc proposed that in the first round of the direct elections, only Christians would vote for the candidates.

In the second round, 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.

The suggestion has been totally rejected by Change and Reform bloc MP Michel Aoun's rivals in the March 14 alliance.

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.

Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan snapped back at critics on Friday, claiming that the suggestion is constitutional and aimed at boosting the role of Christians in governance.

“The Christians have been marginalized because they are being elected by people from outside their sects,” the lawmaker said.

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.



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