Saudi Press

Saudi Arabia and the world
Thursday, Feb 02, 2023

Reformist MPs begin sit-in at Lebanese parliament in protest against political deadlock

Reformist MPs began a sit-in at the Lebanese parliament on Thursday after it failed, for the 11th time, to elect a new president. They vowed to remain until the political deadlock, which began at the end of October when former President Michel Aoun’s term ended, is broken.
“This is not a symbolic move; it aims to press for the election of a president,” MP Melhem Khalaf told Arab News. “We will not back down and we hope that our move leads to a way to implement the constitution. This is a national responsibility and not the individuals’ responsibility.

“Some independent MPs joined us and we will stay in the parliament, despite being informed that the electricity generator will be turned off.

“It is necessary to find a way to implement the constitution. What do we tell people while the Lebanese pound reached 50,000 against the dollar on the black market today? I am ashamed of being a parliament member while people are asking for flour, milk, bread and electricity.”

Khalaf said that all MPs bear the responsibility for the disruption to the country and it is their duty to resolve it. Sami Gemayel, head of the Kataeb Party, was also among the protesters.

Najat Saliba, another MP participating in the sit-in, said: “We will not leave. We will sleep inside the parliament even in the case of a blackout. In fact, most people are experiencing a shutdown of electricity in the first place.”

The MPs were told that all entrances to the parliament would be closed and electricity turned off at 2:30 p.m. local time. After discussions with Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab, and with the parliament’s security service, the MPs were provided with ways to enter and exit the building and provide for their needs.

Officials said 110 MPs, out of 128 total, attended Thursday’s parliamentary session, which was the first of the year. In the vote for a new president, 37 members returned blank ballots. MP Michel Moawad, founder and president of the Independence Movement party, received the most votes, with 34 and 14 voted for “New Lebanon.”

Issam Khalife received seven votes, former minister Ziad Baroud received two, and former MP Edward Honein and activist Miled Bou Malhab each received one vote. Speaker Nabih Berri banned Bou Malhab from the parliament after the latter began chanting when his name was mentioned.

Fifteen votes were discarded as spoiled. They included ballots on which slogans had been written in support of the families of the victims of the explosion at Beirut Port on Aug. 4, 2020, and others on which phrases such as “Agreement,” “Dialogue for Lebanon” and “Presidential Priorities” were written. One invalid vote included the name “Bernie Sanders,” the former Democratic Party candidate for US president.

According to one political analyst, MPs for the Free Patriotic Movement, who in previous votes had conformed with their Hezbollah allies by returning blank ballots, this time decided to write “Presidential Priorities” on their voting papers.

“After the alliance between the two parties was shaken, the FPM decided to differ from Hezbollah with this phrase,” the analyst said.

The voting session ended when Berri announced an adjournment before a second round of voting could take place.

Some reformist MPs, holding up photos of the victims of the Beirut explosion, preempted the decision to adjourn and demanded additional sessions be held.

At the start of the session, MP Hadi Abu Al-Hosn, a member of the Democratic Gathering bloc, noted that his group might boycott future sessions if the political deadlock persisted.

“We might have to suspend our participation in the coming sessions and we call on everyone, all forces, to deliberate in order to reach a solution,” he said.

Relatives of the victims of the Beirut explosion held a rally near the parliament demanding the resumption of the investigation into the blast, which ground to a halt more than a year ago as a result of lawsuits filed by current and former MPs against investigating judge Tarek Bitar, leading to his removal from the case. Democratic Gathering and Lebanese Forces MPs joined the protesters.

After the session, presidential candidate Mouawad said: “We will not settle; we are fighting against subjugation. There are many suggested choices. We might win or lose in the presidential battle but we will not yield and we will not compromise.”

Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan said: “We cannot continue without knowing the offenders (responsible for the explosion). We are ready to stand with the victims’ families and we support Judge Bitar to find the truth.”

He added that a new president must rebuild the Lebanese state and represent the views of all Lebanese people.

Families of people arrested in connection with the investigation into the Beirut blast case also staged a protest near the Justice Palace on Thursday. They were joined by a number of FPM MPs.

A caretaker government has been in place since Aoun’s term ended almost three months ago, stalling a host of economic reforms designed to prevent wasteful spending and combat rampant corruption.

Lebanese authorities in April last year reached a tentative agreement with the International Monetary Fund for a recovery plan, conditional on a host of economic reforms and anti-corruption measures. The organization has been critical of the sluggish efforts to meet those demands.

Related Articles

Saudi Press
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Saudi FM discusses Kingdom’s economy, oil, Iran and US ties in Davos
Israelis rally in three cities against Netanyahu legal reforms
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Saudi Arabia plans to use domestic uranium for nuclear fuel
Mohammed Bin Salman chosen most influential Arab leader of 2022
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
United Arab Emirates says it will teach Holocaust in schools
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Saudi Arabia’s female ambassadors: Who are the five women representing the Kingdom?
Almubarak named ‘The Best Central Bank Governor of the Year 2023 for the Middle East’
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Dubai announces $8.7 trillion economic plan to boost trade, investment and global hub status
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges