BEIRUT: Parliament failed to convene Monday for a fifth consecutive time due to lack of quorum prompting lawmakers to lash out over the extended boycott of the legislative sessions.
The failure to hold the session further entrenched the political deadlock in the country and led Speaker Nabih Berri to postpone the sessions to Oct. 23 while keeping Parliament’s agenda unchanged.
Berri has postponed four prior legislative sessions due to a boycott by a number of lawmakers over the constitutionality of the sessions under a caretaker Cabinet.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Future Movement and its March 14 allies as well as the Free Patriotic Movement boycotted the Parliament session.
Development and Liberation bloc MP Ali Bazzi lashed out at boycotting Future lawmakers accusing them of belittling the Parliament and the Constitution, and calling them “boys” who follow their “masters,” in reference to higher ranking Future officials.
“The Future [lawmakers]... who lack any sense of national responsibility and lack political knowledge and the minimum understanding of the rules of the Constitution and constitutional institutions, particularly Parliament, have crossed their limits,” said MP Bazzi speaking from Parliament after the session failed to convene.
“Enough comedy and enough with taking national duties lightly,” he said.
Bazzi accused the Future MPs of seeking to bring down the state and the “righteous man that represents [the state’s] backbone, Nabih Berri.”
He also said that the Future lawmakers are violating “the Constitution that is based on the Taif Accord” of which the Future Movement’s former chief Rafik Hariri was one of the founders.
Bazzi also criticized Mikati for his boycott saying that he had earlier approved Parliament’s agenda set by Berri “but then changed his mind for reasons only Mikati knows.”
Future MP Ahmad Fatfat responded to Bazzi slamming his “insulting and militia-like” rhetoric.
“Bazzi once again chose to use his insulting rhetoric because he lacks political arguments and I am not going to stoop to this level of political discourse,” said Fatfat.
“When a person looses political arguments, he usually resorts to insults."
For his part, caretaker Minister of State Nicholas Fattoush said he has asked Berri to take action against lawmakers who fail to show up to Parliament sessions based on the Lebanese Constitution.
However, according to Fattoush, Berri said he is “addressing the matter amicably in hope that they will realize they have to do what is best to the nation’s interests.”
Fattoush said that according to the Constitution, lawmakers who fail to attend Parliament session for three consecutive times without submitting a legal justification are considered resigned by law.
There are 45 draft laws listed on the agenda, including one on extending the term of top security officials due for retirement.
Many boycotting parties argue that under a resigned government Parliament can only convene to discuss urgent issues.
The FPM opposes the session’s agenda, but not the legitimacy of the meeting. Its leader, MP Michel Aoun, rejects the draft law for extending the mandate of top security officials due to retire. Aoun has also called for adding discussions about the Orthodox Gathering’s electoral proposal to the agenda.
Also Monday, elections for a new Parliament Secretariat were set for Sept. 22.