Lebanon News

Geagea blasts Aoun over amendment proposal

LF leader Samir Geagea is seen ahead of a press conference in Maarab, Thursday, May 22, 2014. (The Daily Star/Aldo Ayoub, HO)

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea Wednesday blasted his rival MP Michel Aoun for further obstructing the presidential election by proposing Constitutional amendments, which he said only prolonged the vacuum.

“Should we be amending the Constitution at a time the presidential seat has been vacant for over a month?” Geagea said in a televised news conference minutes after Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned a parliamentary session to elect a new president for the eighth time.

“Whoever is proposing Constitutional amendments should recognize that Parliament is exceptionally in session and the aim of such suggestions is merely to divert attention away from the presidential vacuum,” he said.

Aoun proposed earlier this week that the Constitution be amended, allowing the people, rather than MPs, to directly vote for a president. He suggested two rounds of voting, in which Christians vote in the first round and the entire country casts ballots for the two top candidates in the second.

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.

Geagea, a presidential hopeful backed by the March 14 coalition, said Aoun’s proposal was untimely and enforced the presence of a vacuum, questioning the former general’s motives behind such a idea.

“[Former Prime Minister Saad] Hariri informed me during our talks in Paris that Aoun would bring up the issue of amending the Taif Accord as soon as he realized that his chances [of becoming president] were slim,” he said.

"Everytime the Taif does not suit him, he proposes amendments.”

Geagea criticized Aoun for bringing up wrongdoings in the Taif Accord, saying history and the coming generations would be the judge of that.

“To those talking about the rights of Christians in Lebanon, I want to say that this is the top Christian post. What’s Aoun’s position with regards to the vacuum?”

Aoun and his allies in the March 8 group have boycotted eight sessions to elect a new president in a bid to pressure the March 14 to agree on a consensus candidate, rejecting Geagea’s nomination.

Aoun, the head of the second largest bloc in Parliament, has been the March 8’s undeclared candidate for the presidential seat.

“Parliamentarians should carry out their duty and elect a new president, but it is clear that a group of people are obstructing [this] and that is the problem,” Geagea said.

He also spoke about the parliamentary election scheduled in November, saying a president should be elected “before discussing holding the parliamentary poll.”





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