BEIRUT: The Future bloc Tuesday rejected MP Michel Aoun’s proposal for popular presidential elections, saying such a fundamental change to Lebanon's political system calls for a lengthy debate in a calm atmosphere.
“The Lebanese people have accumulated, throughout history, a number of compromises and agreements that contributed to the development of its political system, its Constitution, the National Pact and the Taef Accord,” the bloc said in a statement after its weekly meeting read by MP Ziad Qadri.
“Constitutional amendments regarding important and fundamental issues require a calm atmosphere, free of the tensions and the exceptional circumstances we are living," the statement said. "Such changes take time, and the country now needs a new president as soon as possible.”
The bloc's statement came one day after Aoun, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, proposed that the Constitution be amended to allow Lebanese voters, rather than their MPs, to directly elect the country’s president. According to Aoun's proposal, the Christians would vote in the first round of the polls and the top two candidates would then run in elections open to all voters.
The presidency, which has been vacant since former President Michel Sleiman’s term ended on May 25, is reserved for a Maronite Christian under the National Pact of 1943 that governs Lebanon’s political power-sharing balance between Christians and Muslims.
The Future bloc also criticized Aoun and his allies in the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition for boycotting the parliamentary sessions to elect a new head of state.
“The March 8 coalition should stop disrupting quorum in parliamentary sessions to elect a new president and announce their candidate or come to an agreement [with others] on a candidate who has the leadership skills and ability to unite as well as defend the sovereignty of Lebanon,” the statement said.
The Future bloc, headed by MP Fouad Siniora, went on to praise the security forces' crackdown on terror cells in Lebanon, crediting them with foiling a number of bombings. Such efforts demonstrated that the state was more than capable of maintaining security, the bloc said, taking a stab at Hezbollah's arsenal.
“Recent developments prove that only the Lebanese state, through its official security agencies, can protect the Lebanese public. What endangers the Lebanese is the presence of militias and illegitimate armed forces,” the bloc said.
“Efforts should be focused on strengthening [the state's security forces'] abilities to combat terrorism," it added.
Once again, the bloc urged Hezbollah to end its involvement in the Syrian conflict.
“Hezbollah must withdraw from Syria today, not tomorrow, and refrain from dragging Lebanon and the Lebanese [into danger] and putting the people, their future and the economy at risk.”