Change and Reform parliamentary bloc leader MP Michel Aoun is thinking about boycotting the second national dialogue session that is scheduled to be held on Wednesday, An Nahar newspaper reported on Tuesday .
Aoun is studying his options, a Free Patriotic Movement official, who was not identified, told the daily.
The official hinted that Aoun might not attend the all-party talks “if settlements are reached without resorting to the people, who are the source of all powers.”
“Our objective is to find a radical solution, hear the people’s demands and respect the National Pact and the Constitution,” he said.
The official warned that the FPM would not accept to participate in the dialogue if “the politics of settlements overcome all other projects.”
“We had agreed to participate in the dialogue to rectify flaws and not to become false witnesses,” he said.
Aoun is expected to take a final decision on his participation in the talks during Tuesday’s Change and Reform bloc meeting.
Speaker Nabih Berri chaired the first session of the national dialogue last Wednesday.
The three-hour meeting was held against the backdrop of preparations for a massive demonstration staged by civil society groups, backed by labor unions, in Martyrs’ Square in Downtown Beirut to protest the dialogue session. A new dialogue session was set for Sept. 16.
Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb , one of the 16 politicians and heads of parliamentary blocs who attended the dialogue, described the talks as “good” despite his spat with Aoun, . “We stressed that holding the presidential election is the key to a solution to all problems included in the agenda.”
The session was ended by Speaker Berri after Aoun lost his temper when he spoke about what he called “lost legitimacy”of Parliament as a result of the extension of its mandate twice and the legislature’s “lost legality” as a result of the alleged violation of laws.
Also, Aoun’s call for the election of a strong president representing the Christians drew quick responses from former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, head of the parliamentary Future bloc, and Harb.
Addressing Aoun at the dialogue table, Siniora said: “We are not convinced of the election of a strong president representing the Christians because the president must represent all the Lebanese.”
Explaining his spat with Aoun, Harb said the FPM leader lost his temper when the I pointed out a contradiction in Aoun’s remarks that Parliament was illegitimate and had no right to elect a president, while at the same time proposing that Parliament must amend the Constitution to allow for the election of a president by a popular vote and approve an electoral law. “When I asked how can these two matters be reconciled, he [Aoun] became irate.”
Aoun hit back at Harb, saying that after he talked during the dialogue session about Parliament’s legitimacy, which has been “lost by the extension of its mandate and its legality, which it loses with the violation of laws,” Harb tried to divert the issue by saying Aoun’s remarks were motivated by his being a presidential candidate.
“Gen. Aoun responded to Harb saying: ‘I have spoken in terms of the law. Answer me in law, rather than with personal [hints] and intentions,’” according to a statement released by Aoun’s media office.
The first topic on the dialogue agenda was how to end the 15-month presidential vacuum.
MP Mohammad Raad, head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, reiterated his party’s support for Aoun’s presidential bid. “There is an agreement to elect Gen. Michel Aoun as president. We will not accept any president who does not provide a guarantee for the resistance,” Raad said during the dialogue session.
The National Dialogue session was boycotted by Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, who has dismissed the talks as “a waste of time.” After the session ended Geagea was quoted as saying from Doha Qatar where he was on an official visit :
“The dialogue will solve nothing, it will only attract attention away from electing a president. The problem lies in the statelets inside the state, a possible reference to the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group.
According to Al Jamhouriah newspaper the only participant that refrained from talking during the session was PSP leader MP Walid Jumblatt who sat and listened .
Aoun’s convoy was attacked by the protesters with eggs on his way to the parliament and after leaving it