Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea: Come to Parliament and vote – for president
Nov. 04, 2014/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea Tuesday asked his rivals in the Free Patriotic Movement to attend the legislative session Wednesday and vote for a new president rather than extending Parliament’s mandate, accusing the government of deliberately disrupting the parliamentary election.
Describing it as his last-minute initiative to avoid extending Parliament’s mandate, Geagea said the FPM should attend the session given that Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced a day before that his party’s presidential nominee was MP Michel Aoun.
“There is still a solution that could avoid the extension; all the lawmakers are attending tomorrow’s session and there will be quorum,” he said, during a televised news conference from his residence in Maarab.
“Especially after Nasrallah announced that the March 8 presidential candidate is Aoun and the March 14 have already announced Samir Geagea as their own nominee, two strong Christian candidates, why don’t we all attend and vote on a new president?”
“It’s either we have a presidential election filled with compromises and ready-made abroad or we do not have the election at all?” he asked.
Geagea said he would congratulate and deal with Aoun as a president if he were elected and that his Christian rival would have to do the same.
“After that, we would vote on a draft law prepared by the Lebanese Forces to amend the deadline for the parliamentary elections … unless you are seeking the extension.”
MPs are gearing up for Wednesday’s Parliamentary session in which Speaker Nabih Berri will put a draft law prepared by MP Nicolas Fattoush to extend the legislature’s mandate up for a vote.
Fattoush’s proposal calls for the extension of Parliament’s term for two years and seven months to make it a full four-year mandate after lawmakers, citing security concerns, extended the House’s term for 17 months in May 2013.
If lawmakers hold the parliamentary election scheduled for Nov. 20 without a president, Lebanon would plunge into further paralysis given that the Constitution stipulates that the president name a new prime minister to form a new Cabinet.
The Change and Reform bloc, headed by Aoun, have opposed the extension in a bid to pressure other lawmakers to agree on a consensus candidate.
Aoun’s bloc as well as some allies in the March 8 alliance including Hezbollah have boycotted several presidential election sessions called for by Berri in the past few months, saying such meetings were futile in the absence of an agreement on a consensus candidate.
Local media said Tuesday that Hezbollah was in the process of convincing Aoun to attend the session and perhaps vote in favor of the extension.
The Kataeb Party lawmakers are expected to attend and vote against the draft law, which would secure a Christian representation demanded by Berri in line with the National Accord.
Geagea blast the FPM’s opposition against the extension, saying ministers allied with Aoun should have voiced such rejections in Cabinet, which he said failed to implement any preparatory steps for the parliamentary election scheduled for Nov. 20.
“The Free Patriotic Movement ministers should have put their foot down and made the Cabinet apply regulations related to the parliamentary election. You are represented in this government,” Geagea, whose party refused to take part in Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s Cabinet, said.
“The problem is that the ministers, including our allies who refused the extension, did not prepare for the election,” he said.
He said the government deliberately passed the deadline to call for the electoral committees and failed to set a budget for the polls as stipulated by the Constitution.
“The government did everything not to hold the parliamentary elections.”
The LF leader said the country would plunge into paralysis if MPs fail to extend their own term because such failure would deem the government illegitimate.
the parliamentary elections.” The LF leader said the country would plunge into paralysis if MPs fail to extend their own term because such failure would deem the government illegitimate.