BEIRUT: Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani recommended minor amendments to a proposal to end disputes over elections of the Higher Islamic Council presented to him by Prime Minister Najib Mikati and former prime ministers Monday.
Sources told The Daily Star that the solution stipulates that Qabbani hold a meeting for the council attended by members of the council, the former prime ministers and Mikati. After the meeting, Qabbani would announce a date for holding elections.
The sources said Qabbani proposed that the meeting would be consultative rather than an official meeting for the Higher Islamic Council, whose term is considered expired by the Mufti.
The former prime ministers, particularly Fouad Siniora, have yet to respond to Qabbani’s proposed amendment.
“I informed his eminence of all the details and the solution which they [former prime ministers] proposed. In fact his eminence supports [what was agreed upon],” Mikati told reporters after visiting Qabbani.
Mikati said he would communicate with the former prime ministers and Qabbani to finalize the agreement.
Qabbani is at loggerheads with 21 members of the 32-member council he heads. His call for electing a new council at the end of February was disputed by the 21 members who are close to the Future Movement. The council is the highest Sunni administrative body and organizes the affairs of Dar al-Fatwa.
The 21 members argue that before calling for elections the Mufti should have referred to the council, which in turn would decide whether the situation in the country permits holding polls. The 21 members met under former Minister Omar Miskawi, the deputy head of the council, in December and extended the term of the body for one year, contrary to the mufti’s wish. The council’s term was supposed to expire at the end of last year and Qabbani considers it is to be in a caretaker capacity.
Ties between Qabbani and the Future Movement have deteriorated over the past two years.
Earlier Monday, Mikati chaired a meeting with Siniora and former prime ministers Omar Karami and Salim al-Hoss at the Grand Serail.
“I would like to say that no matter how different political stances are between me and the former prime ministers, the meeting was very good and our disputes remained outside the hall,” Mikati told reporters following the meeting. “Because the unity of the [Sunni] sect matters the most and we all agreed on this.”
Mikati telephoned former Prime Minister Rashid al-Solh and informed him about the results of the meeting.
Separately, Qabbani appointed muftis in several districts across Lebanon. Sheikh Mohammad Zayd Bakkar Zakaria was appointed a mufti for the governorate of Akkar, Sheikh Ayman Rifai a mufti for Baalbek-Hermel and Sheikh Midrar Habbal a mufti for Tyre and its environs.
Qabbani appointed Sheikh Khaldoun Oreimet a director general for Dar al-Fatwa’s Public Health Center after he served as the secretary-general of the Higher Islamic Council. Sheikh Youssef Idriss was appointed secretary-general.