BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Sleiman issues instructions to prepare his farewell speech

File - President Michel Sleiman speaks at a ceremony at Baabda Palace on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013. (The Daily Star/DalatiNohra)

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said he had given instructions to prepare his farewell speech and hand over his post to a newly elected president, he told General Security Magazine in a interview published Tuesday.

Sleiman revealed that his ambition was “to make a farewell speech in Baabda Palace,” and he had “given instructions to prepare it, and to hand over power to a normally elected president.”

“The presidency did not begin with me, and it will not end with the end of a constitutional mandate,” he said, calling for the “fortification of national unity, which is our most valuable asset.”

“Whoever is thinking of preventing a quorum in Parliament is mistaken because it means disabling elections, and it is undemocratic,” the president added.

A deepening political crisis has left the country without a functioning government for almost 10 months, with a paralyzed Parliament unable to meet for a lack of quorum due to political differences between the March 8 and March 14 parties, largely due to differences over the war in Syria.

Sleiman said the presidency remained at the heart of the state’s various institutions, noting the importance of democracy, the rotation of power, dialogue and elections.

His six-year term in office is due to expire on May 25. The presidential election period begins two months before that on March 25.

“We are seeking to form a consensus government, but if that does not happen for one reason or another, the country cannot remain without a government,” he said.

“Can the president who is calling for boosting his powers abandon the powers existing in the Constitution, and not sign a decree calling for the government?”

Sleiman said it was necessary to implement the country’s rules and Constitution, particularly the 1989 Taif Accord that ended the 1975-90 Civil War, which he said “protected everyone.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 05, 2014, on page 3.

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