BEIRUT: The parliamentary Future bloc renewed its call Tuesday for priority to be given to the election of a new president to avoid the security and constitutional ramifications that might arise from holding parliamentary polls before the presidential vote.
The bloc also reiterated its demand for securing the release of military and security personnel held hostage by Islamist militants following the clashes with the Lebanese Army in the northeastern town of Arsal earlier this month.
“Political efforts in Lebanon should be concentrated on holding the presidential election in order to put an end to the vacancy in the presidency. In other words, priority for lawmakers and political leaders should be the election of a president in order for constitutional institutions to be completed,” the bloc said in a statement following its weekly meeting chaired by former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.
Referring to the spillover of the “grave developments” in the region into Lebanon, it added: “Priority should be to work for the election of a president to ward off the security and constitutional repercussions that might result from holding parliamentary elections before the election of a president.”
Parliament failed last week for the 10th time in four months to elect a new president over a lack of quorum, raising fears of a prolonged vacancy in the country’s top Christian post.
The bloc said “national responsibility” must compel all political parties without exception to work to prevent “Lebanon’s slide into a vacuum in its institutions.”
It called for arming and bolstering the capabilities of the Lebanese Army and security institutions to help them “confront terrorism and terrorists ..., especially since the financial resources were secured through the appreciated and unprecedented Saudi aid.”
It was referring to Saudi King Abdullah’s $1 billion grant to shore up the capabilities of the Lebanese Army and security forces in their battle against terrorism following the Army’s clashes with Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in Arsal.
The bloc underlined the need for “a serious work and intensive follow-up in order to secure the release of the captured Lebanese military personnel and return them to their families.”
At least 19 soldiers have been killed in five days of ferocious fighting between the Lebanese Army and militants in and around Arsal that erupted after the militants overran the town on Aug. 2, in the most serious spillover of Syria’s civil war into Lebanon. Another 19 soldiers are still missing, along with 15 policemen, believed to be held by the militants. More than 60 militants and 42 civilians were also killed.
The bloc slammed Hezbollah’s involvement in the war in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces, saying the party’s role had exacerbated the “terrorist wave” in the region.
“Hezbollah’s public bias to the side of the oppressive regime [in Syria] has caused dangerous repercussions on Lebanon and the Lebanese and on their relations with their Arab environment,” the bloc said.