Lebanon News

LU head proposes president be elected by popular vote

Head of the Lebanese University Adnan Sayyed Hussein speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Head of the Lebanese University Adnan Sayyed Hussein proposed Friday several constitutional reforms to strengthen the president’s role in political life, including that the county’s head of state be elected by popular vote.

During a conference titled “The President's Prerogatives: Between the Constitution and Political Practice,” Hussein said the prerogatives of president had been curtailed as per the Taef Accord, weakening what he said was the country’s top post.

“The president is the head of state and the sole official who swears an oath to protect the nation and apply the Constitution ... therefore, the president should be able to fully practice this responsibility in the event there is a threat to the country's unity or civil peace,” Hussein Sayyed said at the conference.

“[The president should act] in the case Cabinet loses control of the general situation,” he added.

Sayyed Hussein proposed a number of constitutional reforms that he said would restore and strengthen the president’s prerogatives.

"The president should have the power to dissolve Parliament in order to renew political authority according to constitutional regulations given that the current mechanism to dissolve Parliament is almost impossible to apply,” he said.

He also said the president should have the ability to impeach ministers in the Cabinet in the event the government fails to carry out its primary duties such as approving a state budget.

"Perhaps the best solution is to revise the voting system for the presidential post: the president should be elected by the people with Lebanon considered a single electoral district,” he said.

He also suggested a new law for political parties to ensure they are genuinely nonsectarian in nature as well as pushing for administrative decentralization.

Sayyed Hussein also noted that the sectarian system in Lebanon, particularly in the public sector, obstructed the president’s ability to carry out his duties.

“It has also been difficult for the president to act upon his prerogatives in a sectarian system. Therefore, there has always been an attempt to combine the Lebanese sectarian system based on the National Pact and a political system,” he said.

“We should apply Article 95 of the Constitution to eliminate sectarian representation in the public sector and establish the National Committee to eliminate political sectarianism,” he added.

He argued that some of best means of eliminating sectarianism are to adopt proportional representation in parliamentary elections and expand electoral districts as stipulated in the Taef Accord.

“The president can push in that direction on the basis of a civil Lebanese will,” he said.





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