BEIRUT: Candidates from Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt’s bloc submitted their applications Thursday to run for June’s parliamentary elections, despite the political impasse over the polls.
Missing from the names of seven candidates whose applications were filed was the name of caretaker Transport and Public Works Minister Ghazi Aridi, who is currently representing the party as a lawmaker for Beirut.
Shortly before 10 a.m., reporters gathered near the Interior Ministry in the Beirut neighborhood of Sanayeh, to wait for PSP officials to arrive.
A few minutes later, PSP official Nashaat Hasanieh, who handles the party’s legal affairs, appeared along with Malek Abu Latif and Nashaat Hilal, two PSP lawyers. Clutching a blue file, Hasanieh and the other two entered the Interior Ministry.
“These candidacies were submitted in accordance with the party’s decision to adhere to the Constitution and to the electoral law currently in place,” Hasanieh told reporters when he emerged less than an hour later.
“This stance is in agreement with that of the president, who stresses the need to hold elections on time in order to avoid a dangerous political vacuum,” he added.
Hasanieh said Aridi had decided not to run in the upcoming elections, adding that the party might submit more candidacies.
Aridi, a PSP official and a Beirut lawmaker, ran on Jumblatt’s list in the parliamentary elections of 2000, 2005 and 2009.
Rami Rayyes, the PSP’s media official, said Aridi reiterated several times in the past that he did not want to run for elections.
“He says that being an MP and a minister is exhausting all his time,” Rayyes said. “This is his opinion, but it is still being discussed by the party and nothing is final yet.”
Hasanieh denied that filing the applications was aimed at provoking the country’s four leading Christian parties, who decided not to run for polls under the 1960 law Wednesday.
“We had [already] announced our stance. We said that we would submit our candidacies to affirm our commitment to the Constitution and avoid falling into a political vacuum,” Hasanieh said.
“They [Christian parties] opposed the 1960 law, but we are dealing with the law that is currently in effect. Once a new law is endorsed, we will deal with it accordingly,” he added.
The Lebanese Forces, the Marada Movement, the Kataeb party and the Free Patriotic Movement attended a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Bkirki, where they agreed to abstain from the election if it was held under the 1960 law. The parties believe the law does not provide fair representation for Christians.
Hasanieh added that the Council of Maronite Bishops highlighted the importance of holding elections after its monthly meeting Wednesday.
Hasanieh said he believed that many independent candidates were likely to file their candidacies under the 1960 law as well.
The PSP candidates who will run in the elections are Ayman Shuqair in Baabda; Walid Jumblatt, Alaeddine Terro, Nehme Tohme and Elie Aoun in the Chouf; Akram Shehayeb in Aley and Wael Abu Faour in Western Bekaa-Rashaya.