BEIRUT: Change and Reform bloc MP Ibrahim Kanaan Tuesday slammed a proposal to extend Parliament’s mandate again, saying it placed Lebanon’s democracy and its institutions at risk, while calling for the approval of a new electoral law.
“With the first extension, they made promises that we could change the current electoral law but nothing happened,” Kanaan told reporters after the weekly bloc meeting headed by MP Michel Aoun.
“It is not acceptable for a Parliament with an extended mandate, which the Constitutional Council challenged, to elect a president for six years. We believe that the extension is dangerous and serves a blow to the principle of the rotation of power and the legitimacy of constitutional institutions.”
The solution, Kanaan added, was for lawmakers to resume discussion on the proposed draft electoral laws on Parliament’s agenda.
Earlier in the day, MP Nicholas Fattoush proposed a draft law to extend Parliament’s mandate for two years and 7 months, citing security reasons and arguing that postponing the election was aimed at “protecting civil peace and preventing a sectarian strife.”
The Parliamentary election are scheduled in November.
Fattoush was the lawmaker behind last year’s proposal to extend Parliament’s mandate for 17 months, which was approved and passed by lawmakers. The Change and Reform bloc voted against the bill.
After failing to agree on a new electoral law to replace the current one opposed by the major Christian groups, MPs voted in favor the of the extension, citing security fears.
Fattoush spoke to reporters after lawmakers botched a tenth attempt to elect a new president, reflecting lack of agreement on a consensus candidate for the head the state. Some March 8 coalition blocs including Aoun’s lawmakers have refrained from attending the sessions, arguing that such meetings were futile unless rivals agree on a consensus figure.
“Extending the mandate also jeopardizes democracy and the institutions as well as Lebanon’s image and credibility abroad as it also affects the economy. Therefore, we should break this cycle and formulate a new electoral law that guarantees sound representations,” Kanaan said.
“Do those who agreed to last year’s extension have the right to accuse us of obstructing the presidential election?”