Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun reiterated Tuesday his rejection of the proposed extension of parliament's term, as he noted that Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea's initiative on the parliamentary and presidential polls is not “realistic.”
“It is well-known that we reject extension. However, there are misleading interpretations and the issue is being approached in a wrong manner, as there is nothing called vacuum in the Lebanese state,” said Aoun after the weekly meeting of his Change and Reform parliamentary bloc in Rabieh.
“The alternative to extension is elections and if the polls do not take place on Nov. 20, the parliament will be dissolved but the government stays and would not be considered resigned, according to Article 69 of the Lebanese Constitution,” he pointed out.
Aoun also said that Article 74 of the Constitution “stipulates that should the presidential seat become vacant for one reason or another and the parliament is dissolved, the government should call immediate elections and the polls must take place.”
He underlined that no one should “claim that there will be vacuum if the extension does not happen.”
“They are speaking of the National Pact, the Constitution and the National Reconciliation Accord. The electoral law should respect equal Christian-Muslim power-sharing and the Constitution stipulates respect for coexistence, which can only be secured through justice among the Lebanese,” Aoun stressed.
He lamented that equal power-sharing “is not being respected in the parliament.”
“There is no effectiveness in this legislature because there is no partnership and they are refusing to correct the mistakes,” added Aoun.
“We cannot extend the term of a parliament that lost its credibility in regard to the drafting of a new electoral law,” Aoun underscored.
He noted that “violating the Constitution” is the biggest blow to equal-power sharing, “not the boycott of some MPs.”
The Orthodox Gathering law, under which each sect would elect its own MPs, “is the only law that can ensure fairness among the sects and it is not true that the elections will lead to the same divisions, because a new law will be adopted,” Aoun added.
Stressing that the parliamentary polls must be held, the FPM leader pointed out that the Lebanese “have drawn lessons and they will change some things, even if the electoral law remained the same.”
“How can we trust a majority that does not honor its promises and does not respect proper Christian representation? How can balance be ensured in the authorities? The same standards must apply to the president, parliament speaker and prime minister or else the process would be aimed at imposing hegemony over others,” Aoun added.
“We are counting on the Constitution and on the people, who are the real authority, and this is what we tried to do in the presidential vote,” he said, referring to his recent controversial proposal on the direct election of a president by the people.
Aoun warned that “after extending the parliament's term, the majority wants to control and manipulate everything and they want to elect a president without resorting to the people.”
“This is what makes us reject extension,” he said.
Aoun added that nothing can guarantee that a president will be elected during the proposed extension period.
“Is there a guarantee that we won't fall in the same dilemma? This majority has not respected the electoral law or the presidential elections,” he stated.
He noted that Lebanon “cannot bear for another 31 months a government that has failed to resolve the refugee crisis, to appoint a new army command or to approve funds.”
“The country's interests are being delayed and some ministers are exceeding their jurisdiction and violating norms, that's why we're against extension,” the FPM leader said.
Asked whether his bloc will attend Wednesday's parliamentary session during which extension is expected to be adopted, Aoun said: “We will announce our decision tomorrow.”
“I do not reject Geagea's initiative but I will respond to him when he turns it into something realistic,” Aoun added, in response to another question.
Earlier on Tuesday, Geagea renewed his opposition to the extension of parliament's term, while accusing the government and Change and Reform bloc of adopting double standards in this issue.
He said during a press conference: “We can avoid the extension by heading to parliament and electing a president on Wednesday instead of voting for the renewal of its term.”
He accused the bloc of seeking to create vacuum in Lebanon in order to alter the Lebanese political system.
Last year, the parliament extended its term until November 2014 after the MPs failed to agree on a new law and claimed the security situation did not guarantee violence-free elections. A similar extension is set to take place on Wednesday to avoid a further vacuum.
The Baabda Palace has been vacant since the expiry of President Michel Suleiman's term in May. The rival MPs have failed to elect a new head of state over their differences on a compromise candidate.
The majority of the March 8 camp's lawmakers have boycotted the sessions, insisting that there should be consensus on a candidate first.
But their boycott has also been seen as a sign of their rejection of Geagea's candidacy, which was officially endorsed by the March 14 forces before the coalition suggested agreeing on a compromise nominee.
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