BEIRUT: Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb Monday proposed adopting a simple majority quorum for electoral sessions in Parliament as a way out of the presidential deadlock.
“Just as we concluded from the Constitution that the first round required a two-thirds quorum, as well as two-thirds of votes needed for the election of a nominee, then let’s conclude that a simple majority quorum with an absolute majority vote are required for the following rounds of voting,” Harb said at a news conference announcing his initiative.
He said that Speaker Nabih Berri’s bloc along with those lawmakers from the March 14 coalition who have been attending the electoral sessions would secure a simple majority quorum of the 128-member hour.
Addressing Berri, Harb said changing the needed quorum would eliminate the pretext of an “unconstitutional electoral process.”
The initiative, Harb said, is aimed at salvaging the republic, avoiding a prolonged presidential vacuum and “not allowing a single party or sect to control” the electoral process and disrupt the election.
The necessary quorum, beyond the first round, is not stipulated in the Constitution in Articles 73 or 49, but a two-thirds requirement has become the norm.
Some March 8 coalition parties have boycotted nine electoral sessions, after the first attempt on May 22 secured a quorum but failed to elect a president. They argue that the sessions are futile unless lawmakers agree beforehand on a consensus candidate.
The boycott by MP Michel Aoun, the undeclared March 8 candidate, along with Hezbollah and some of their allies, is meant to put pressure on lawmakers to come to an agreement on a future president but to avail.
Describing the boycott as an “unprecedented move that Lebanon has never witnessed in its constitutional and political practice,” Harb said March 8’s behavior had weakened Lebanon’s ability to confront mounting challenges.
“[They] left Lebanon without a president for 88 days and impacted the work of constitutional institutions and Lebanon’s ability to face dangerous events including terrorism, killings and the migration on the part of Christians in the East,” he said.
“Some have feared that disrupting the election of a Lebanese president, the only Christian head of state in the Middle East, is part of a campaign to force the migration of Christians and get rid of their last bastion.”
He said it was unacceptable for the presidency to remain vacant, waiting for Aoun to change his stance.
Harb commended Berri for his insistence on calling for sessions to elect a new president, while expressing hope that the speaker would consider his initiative.