BEIRUT: Future Bloc MPs called Wednesday for giving priority to electing a new president over holding the parliamentary elections, arguing that the bloc supported extending Parliament's term only to facilitate the presidential election and avert a total vacuum.
MP Samir Jisr said the Cabinet decree calling on the electorate to vote in parliamentary elections scheduled for November was “a right step.”
“The Future Movement is in favor of holding elections, on condition that the presidential poll comes first,” Jisr said in an interview with Al-Fajr Radio.
“(Future) leader Saad Hariri’s backing of the extension of Parliament’s mandate is not absolute, it is only meant to facilitate the election of a new president of the republic,” Jisr added.
His colleague, MP Jean Ogassapian, warned against setting a precedent of having constitutional institutions function under prolonged presidential vacuum.
Speaking in an interview with Radio Voice of Lebanon, Ogassapian dismissed the feasibility of holding general elections in the absence of a president.
“How can we appoint a new prime minister and hold consultations without a president,” he asked, arguing that the country would then suffer a vacuum in all its constitutional bodies.
“It is impossible to install constitutional institutions under presidential vacuum. Priority should be for electing a president, to be followed by general elections,” Ogassapian said.
“If we don’t elect a president, the only available solution will be extending the parliament’s mandate for a short while until a president is elected,” he added.
On his part, MP Amin Wehbi, said the Future Movement's insistence on electing a president first “reflects the party’s keenness to preserve the Christian top post.”
“We are attached to this post, which is in the national interest of all Lebanese. The Christian role is a guarantee for freedoms and diversity in the country, not to mention that the vacuum at the top post causes imbalance and malfunction in public institutions,” Wehbi told Radio Orient.
The Cabinet signed a decree Tuesday calling on the electorate to vote in general elections set for Nov. 16. But the move, which came hours after the expiration of the legal deadline to publish the decree, does not necessarily mean that election will be held on time.