BEIRUT: Parliament failed to convene Tuesday for a fourth time in just over a month due to lack of quorum, extending the nation's political deadlock and prompting Speaker Nabih Berri to postpone the legislative session again.
Berri said the next session would take place Sept. 23, with the same agenda.
Just like the last three delayed sessions, MPs from Michel Aoun’s Parliamentary Change and Reform bloc, the Future Movement, the Lebanese Forces, the Kataeb Party, and independent March 14 MPs, as well as caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati boycotted the meeting.
“It seems that boycott has become a new weapon among the weapons the other side uses to prevent the state and its institutions from assuming their constitutional responsibilities,” Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar told reporters.
The Future Movement, LF, the Kataeb and independent March 14 MPs along with Mikati argue that under a resigned government, Parliament can only convene to discuss urgent issues, rather than the agenda of 45 items which the session is scheduled to address.
“Our decision not to attend the Parliament session today is based on principles. It expresses our opposition to the infringement on the powers of the prime minister and the government carried out by Speaker Nabih Berri,” Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat told a local TV station later.
“Our stance is merely constitutional,” Fatfat said.
Berri maintains that Parliament can convene at anytime and discuss any issue until a new Cabinet wins a vote of confidence.
The Free Patriotic Movement opposes the session’s agenda, but not the legitimacy of the meeting. Its leader Michel Aoun voiced his rejection of a draft law to increase the retiring age of top security officials. He also called for adding discussion of the Orthodox electoral proposal to the agenda.
Berri did not come to Parliament and issued the decision to postpone the session from his Ain al-Tineh residence.
Showing up in Parliament were MPs from Hezbollah, Amal, the Marada Movement, the Progressive Socialist Party, the Baath Party and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
Hezbollah’s Ammar voiced his surprise that MPs boycotting the session attend sessions of Parliament’s joint committees.
“It is very weird that our colleagues who boycotted this session which was to pass draft laws to address the needs of people...scramble to attend the sessions of joint committees,” Ammar said. “In the latest joint committees session, the hall could not accommodate all the attending MPs,” Ammar said.
Fatfat hit back, saying his group’s participation in joint committee sessions reflected the fact that it is still involved in legal legislative work.
The country has been without a sitting government for five months and Parliament has been unable to convene since June.