BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea warned Monday against obstructing the presidential election and urged all parties to attend Parliament’s session to vote for a new head of state.
“The other side [March 8] is determined to obstruct the session and no side has the right to use the right [to boycott a Parliament session] randomly,” Geagea, a presidential candidate, said speaking from his residence in Maarab.
“The white paper [casted by lawmakers in the previous session to elect a president] aimed at obstructing the election in a prelude to boycotting the next round [of voting],” he said.
Speaker Nabih Berri has called on Parliament to meet Wednesday to elect a president after no candidate secured the two-thirds majority needed to win during the first round of voting last week. A two-thirds quorum (86) of the legislature’s 128 members is required for any electoral session.
Geagea, the first to publicly announce his candidacy, gained 48 out of 124 votes in the first round against 52 blank ballots cast by most of the March 8 coalition’s MPs while one vote went for Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel and 16 went to MP Walid Jumblatt’s candidate MP Henri Helou.
The LF leader criticized the March 8 team for their blank ballots and said such action would be “legitimate only if Lebanon was occupied.”
He said that failing to secure a quorum cannot be used as a pretext for obstructing the election.
“The quorum cannot be a legal impediment to prevent the election; the legal texts stipulate that the quorum aims at organizing the presidential election process and making the best of it,” he said.
“As for obstructing the quorum, it is undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
Geagea also urged his rival March 8 team to announce the group’s presidential candidate ahead of the next session aimed at electing a new head of state.
“The March 8 camp has to choose its presidential candidate and his program and head to Wednesday's session,” he said.
Parliament has until May 25, the end of President Michel Sleiman’s six-year-term, to vote for a new head of state.