Lebanon News

Christian poll to be held ‘in coming days’

LF leader Samir Geagea, right, receives MP Ibrahim Kanaan in Maarab, Monday, June 29, 2015. (The Daily Star/Aldo Ayoub, HO)

BEIRUT: A presidential poll will be held in coming days, a Free Patriotic Movement MP said Tuesday, as the decision to hold it drew both support and opposition.

“It will happen within days,” MP Ibrahim Kanaan told The Daily Star.

“We are currently working out the details.”

The poll was first proposed by FPM leader Michel Aoun in May as one of four options to end Lebanon’s presidential deadlock. The process is supposed to determine the most popular presidential candidates among Christians.

It won the backing of FPM’s rival, the Lebanese Forces, when both groups began talks which culminated in announcing a joint declaration of intent last month.

But several details related to the process have yet to be decided on, such as what company will conduct the poll, the size and geographical distribution of the sample and the number and content of questions.

While acknowledging that the outcome of the poll was not constitutionally binding, Kanaan said it had a “moral effect.”

“When people make their choice, you either respect it or not, it is a matter of culture here.”

LF leader Samir Geagea reiterated Tuesday his support for the poll, saying it wasn’t directed against any Lebanese faction, was nonbinding and didn’t violate the Constitution.

“The poll, which was proposed by Aoun, doesn’t target any political group whether Christian or non-Christian,” Geagea said.

He said the election of a new head of state as soon as possible was needed to solve the presidential vacuum. “We will all congratulate the winner no matter who he is.”

But Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh, an ally of Aoun, said that while he supported the poll, its outcome would not affect his voting choices.

He said that he would vote for Aoun no matter what the result.

The Zghorta MP made his remarks Monday after receiving Kanaan, who is trying to rally support for the poll.

The Future parliamentary bloc of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called for electing a president away from “new” and “twisted norms.”

“It is important to adhere to the Constitution and not to slide into any new novelties that aim at inventing new and twisted norms that obstruct the election of a president,” the Future bloc said in a statement Tuesday after its regular meeting under former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

“Based on this, it is necessary that a new president is elected according to the only election mechanism, which is Parliament in line with Article 27 of the Constitution.”

The Article states that every MP is a representative of the entire nation and that no conditions or restrictions should be placed on him by his voters.

Lebanon has been without a president since May of last year, with each of the March 8 and March 14 coalitions having vetoed their respective candidates Aoun and Geagea.

The Kataeb Party is another group opposing the poll.

“The only way to elect a president is through Parliament. The Lebanese people have tasked MPs with electing him,” Kataeb MP Fadi Habr told The Daily Star.

He expressed his opposition to the “twisted and devious” ways of Aoun, adding that he had no trust in a company which would implement the process.

“We don’t know which company will conduct the poll and what its orientation might be,” Habr said.

“From where will the sample be taken? If they do it in Metn, then 80 percent of people there will express their support for [former] President Amine Gemayel, whereas if they do it in areas inhabited by Lebanese of Armenian origins, then Aoun will win,” Habr said.

“What we need is the election of a president by Parliament.”

Habr said it was “bad” of Geagea to back the poll.

“Geagea recognized that his candidacy had hit a dead end. Who does he support from the remaining three [Maronite leaders]?” Habr said.

“Does he want to support [former] President Amine Gemayel? Let him say so. Or does he back Gen. Aoun or Frangieh?”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 01, 2015, on page 3.




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