BEIRUT: Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati along with former premiers described the recent elections of the Higher Islamic Council as void Wednesday while Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani remained defiant.
Mikati chaired a meeting at the Grand Serail that gathered Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, former prime ministers Fouad Siniora and Omar Karami. Former PM Salim Hoss was absent for medical reasons.
“The attendees remained [committed] to their stance that what the mufti did, along with violating judicial decisions by the Shura Council in a repetitive manner is against all norms and roles, particularly those related to quorum and administrating the elections,” a statement from Mikati’s office said.
“Anything that resulted from this violation of the law is absolutely void,” it added.
Hours after the meeting began, Qabbani approved the results of the elections for the Higher Islamic Council which were held over the weekend in defiance of the Shura Council’s opposition to holding the polls.
“The mufti of the republic issued decision 57/2013, which approves the results of the Higher Islamic Council held Sunday on April 14 2013,” Dar al-Fatwa said.
“The mufti will later set a date for holding the council elections in the regions of Tripoli and Bekaa where the polls were not held for lack of quorum,” the statement added.
Qabbani declared Sunday that candidates for the council membership won uncontested in the regions of Beirut, Sidon, Hasbaya, Akkar and Mount Lebanon while the remaining nine seats in Tripoli and the Bekaa Valley remained vacant due to a lack of quorum of eligible voters.
Divisions within Dar al-Fatwa began to surface last year when the 32-member council whose majority is allied with the Future Movement extended its own term until the end of 2013, a move deemed illegal by Qabbani prompting to call for the April 14 elections.
The grand mufti maintained that the council’s elections were legitimate and denied that the Shura Council had issued a decision to cancel them.
The council, the highest administrative Sunni body, elects the mufti and organizes the affairs of Dar al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s top Sunni religious authority.
During the meeting, Mikati told the former premiers that he had already informed the mufti that calling or holding elections Council would be void “because it violates the judicial decision to stop the elections as well as the judicial decisions by the Shura Council and upon the request of the Mufti himself to halt the polls.”
Mikati also gave instruction not to publish the results of the elections in the official gazette.
They also decided to remain in session “to conserve what the Sunni sect has always adopted to preserve the statue of Dar al-Fatwa from any violations and whatever harms the sect or their highest interests.”
Qabbani has said that he never received the decision of the Shura Council to stop the elections, adding any decisions by the council were nonbinding.