Lebanon News

MP Michel Helou dies after protracted illness

MP Michel Helou, in a screengrab from a November 2012 appearance on MTV's "Beirut al-Yawm" talk show. (THE DAILY STAR/YOUTUBE)

BEIRUT: Change and Reform bloc MP Michel Helou died early Friday after a long battle with illness.

A source told The Daily Star that Helou, who had been fightng cancer, died at the Middle East Hospital in Bsalim, in the Metn region north of Beirut.

The source said the funeral was set for 4 p.m. Saturday in Helou's hometown of Jezzine, south Lebanon.

The death of Helou raised questions over whether a parliamentary by-election would be held to fill the now-vacant seat in Jezzine.

Jezzine has three Christian representatives in Parliament. Traditionally, the Jezzine seats are disputed between the Change and Reform bloc of Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and Speaker Nabih Berri.

According to former MP Mikhael Daher, a legal expert, by-elections could not be held now to elect a successor for Helou, as Parliament’s term will expire in less than six months.

“According to Article 41 of the Constitution, a successor for a deceased MP is not elected if he passes away when there is still less than six months for Parliament’s term to expire,” Daher told The Daily Star.

Parliament’s term expires on Nov. 20.

“But if Parliament’s term was extended, then by-elections should be held,” Daher continued.

The new MP should be elected within two months following his predecessors death, states Article 41.

Helou is survived by his wife Micheline al-Meouchi and children Tony, Rita and Stephanie.





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