Berri: Vote on extending parliamentary mandate to take place next week

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Saturday, November 1, 2014

Lebanon House Speaker Nabih Berri called for a plenary parliamentary session for next Wednesday in order to discuss a new extension of Parliament’s mandate until 2017.

Berri said Thursday that “two draft proposals related to the extension of the parliament’s mandate are included in next Wednesday's agenda, in addition to seven other items.” The first draft law includes a technical extension related to the deadlines contained in the electoral law, and the second an extension for two years and seven months.

Berri noted that “the two proposals will be put before the General Assembly, and in the event that the first proposal is not endorsed by parliament members, the second will be presented, but deputies will be informed that it is compulsory to vote on one of them, whether a short technical extension or a long-term one, otherwise parliament would head toward an inevitable void.”

Berri stressed that next Wednesday’s session should acquire legitimacy.

“This would not only be manifested through attendance of the session to secure a quorum, because a quorum has already been secured, but through participation in decision-making and voting on the extension,” he said.

“Consequently, the legitimacy of the session relies on the Christian participation in voting, not only attendance, because the Sunnis, Shias, and Druze support the extension while Christians oppose it. There are Christian deputies in my bloc, as well as in those of Hezbollah, the Future Movement, and Walid Jumblatt. But the other Christian blocs represent the real Christian weight. I'm talking about the representation of Christian blocs and their size in parliament, not in the street because I am not concerned with this aspect. General Michel Aoun's bloc comes in first in terms of Christian representation, followed by the Lebanese Forces bloc, then that of the Phalange Party and MP Suleiman Franjieh. If they all do not attend, there will be no session. And if there is no Christian participation – not just attendance – in the session during the vote, I will be giving an address and the session will be at threat. Certainly, not all Christian deputies are required to vote in favor of the extension, but at least the Christian forces that have the most representation.”

Sources from Ain al-Tineh Palace, Berri’s headquarters, said that the meetings held between Berri, Free Patriotic Movement leader General Michel Aoun, and MP George Adwan two days ago “provided a Christian cover for the parliamentary extension. Although they will not vote on the draft law, they confirmed to Berri that they will attend the meeting.”

The sources said that “Berri’s call came after the parties established clear positions, except for the Phalange Party, whose position remains unclear” and has “vacillated between wanting to attend to vote against the draft law and boycotting the session.”

Sources close to the Phalange Party said that “the bloc will likely attend the session after it realized that there won’t be a problem with quorum.”

Gemayel Continues His Tour

Meanwhile, MP Sami Gemayel met with Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh in Bnashii. Marada sources told Al-Akhbar that “the discussions focused on the presidential election, and ideas were put forward to reach a solution that would allow Christians to elect a president that suits them.”

“The recent rapprochement between the Phalange and Marada had a positive impact on the talks between the two men, which touched on the Syrian crisis and its repercussions on Lebanon,” in addition to “the Syrians refugees, the security situation, and the recent developments in Tripoli,” they added. They noted that the “the extension of the parliament’s mandate took up much of the discussion, where Gemayel reiterated the party's opposing position in this regard, but he did not convey to Franjieh the party’s final decision regarding its participation in Wednesday’s session.”

Popular rage in Bab al-Tabbaneh

Al-Akhbar learned that the Future Movement, and former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri in particular, have been informed that there is anger among the people in the northern city of Tripoli as a result of the destruction caused to the city.

Sources have said that “the people do not support the militants, but there is also a growing mood that signals a deviation from the movement due to a general sense of abandonment by the people.”

A preliminary survey of the damages in the city showed the need for 60 billion Lebanese Lira ($40 million) for reconstruction, Since the Lebanese government cannot secure the full amount, Hariri released a statement yesterday announcing “the allocation of $20 million to the affected areas in Tripoli, especially Bab al-Tabbaneh and Bahnin in Minyeh.” He is expected to take other steps to appease the people in the city.

The cabinet yesterday held a regular session, in which PM Tammam Salam discussed the developments in Tripoli. The cabinet allocated 30 billion Lebanese Lira ($20 million) as immediate compensation to citizens and for the rehabilitation of affected areas.

(Al-Akhbar)

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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