Presidential Elections Postponed again as Harb Calls for Amendment that Forces MPs to Attend Polls

The 35th session to elect a president was postponed on Monday following a lack of quorum at parliament as officials voiced their ongoing disappointment with some blocs' boycott of the polls.

Speaker Nabih Berri scheduled a new electoral session for March 2.

Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb lamented after the failed meeting the current state of democracy in Lebanon, calling for an amendment to the constitution that forces lawmakers to attend the polls.

“We are studying an amendment that would obligate MPs to attend elections otherwise risk losing their seat at parliament,” he told reporters.

Another amendment calls for a head of state to remain in his post until a new president is elected in order to avert a prolonged vacuum similar to the one Lebanon is witnessing, he revealed.

Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of a successor.

Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps over a compromise candidate have thwarted the polls.

Some observers were optimistic that a head of state would have been elected during Monday's session following Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea's endorsement of his longtime rival Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun as president.

Over the weekend however, Hizbullah, Aoun's main ally, announced that its lawmakers will not attend the electoral session unless an agreement is reached to elect the MP.

Harb condemned this approach, saying sarcastically that parliament should only serve as a place of celebration where it would celebrate any political agreement that is made in advance.

Monday's electoral session saw the attendance of 38 March 14 alliance MPs, 13 from the March 8 alliance, and seven independent figures.

Head of the Kataeb Party MP Sami Gemayel said after the electoral session: “It is time that we adhere to democracy.”

“Not everyone can win in politics as it is about winning and losing,” he noted.

“Democracy has existed in Lebanon for 80 years and we are now burying it and harming the Lebanese people,” he said.

LF MP Georges Adwan later stressed that the party “is seeking rapprochement between Aoun and the Mustaqbal Movement,” while noting that “Hizbullah must reach an understanding with Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh.”

Franjieh is also running for the presidency.



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