Siniora calls for early presidential elections 4 months before President Aoun’s term ends

File photo of Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora suggested “holding early presidential elections 4 months before the end of President Michel Aoun’s term in office stressing that this period ( of 4 months) is not long.”

He told Al-Hurra that “we had a precedent in electing former President Elias Sarkis several months before the end of former President Suleiman Franjieh’s term.

He said that “the early presidential elections would shorten the pains and aches we will be exposed to, but if this is not possible, then the President of the Republic should take the initiative immediately and without resorting to the so-called consultations of authorship before the assignment.”

He explained that “the caretaker government is the one that, according to the constitution, takes over the reins at the end of the term of the president of the republic. There is nothing in the constitution that allows the prolongation of the president’s term, and if this matter is in the minds of some, this is considered a usurpation of power.”

Aoun’s term officially ends on Oct31, but according to several Lebanese media reports Aoun does not intend to step down if no president is elected before his term ends . Hezbollah and its backer Iran were  blamed for the   29 month of presidential vacuum in Lebanon (after former president Michel Suleiman stepped down at the end of his term) . Hezbollah insisted on having its ally Aoun as the president.

Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun (2nd left) , is shown during his meeting with Hezbollah chief hassan Nasrallah ( rd right). 7 days before he was elected The meeting was held in the presence of head of the FPM Minister of Foreign Affairs Jebran Bassil (L) Nasrallah’s adviser Hajj Hussein Khalil ( 2nd right ) and Hezbollah’s top security official Wafiq Safa (R) . Hezbollah and its backer Iran were  blamed for the   29 month of presidential vacuum in Lebanon. Hezbollah insisted on having its ally Aoun as the president. October 24, 2016

Siniora described “the heresy of the strong president,” by calling for ” taking lessons from it.” He said, “Yes, we want a strong, strong, strong president, but he must be strong among all the Lebanese and not with a group of the Lebanese, a possible reference to Aoun’s alliance with Hezbollah and allowing the party to violate Lebanon’s policy of dissociation towards regional conflicts . During Aoun’s Term Hezbollah was acting as a proxy of Iran in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen and damaged Lebanon’s relations with the Arab Gulf countries . The majority of the Lebanese consider Iran as the occupier of Lebanon during Aoun’s term .

He added :

“The president of the republic must be the protector of the constitution, unifying the Lebanese and above all authorities, but unfortunately President Aoun lacked all these qualities”

In response to a question about whom would have voted for as the Parliament Speaker if he was an MP today, he replied: “I would have voted with a blank ballot ,” noting that “we really need new faces , a new mentality and a new approach to solving the problems of the country.

He added; We also need a new mentality in the government, the prime minister and the president of the republic.”

He continued, “It is not possible for a new face of the Speaker Parliament because of the election results, but for the deputy Speaker position there are new faces who bring good ideas with them, and I listened to Dr. Ghassan Skaf’s approach, and I think it is worth considering him seriously for the position.”

Lebanon set the election of the Speaker of Parliament and his deputy for May 31, two weeks after holding the parliamentary elections. 

Nabih Berri is the one and only candidate for Speaker and if he wins , he would occupy the parliament for the seventh time since 1992.

According to the constitution the speaker must be a Shiite Muslim , the PM should be a Sunni Muslim and the president should be. a Maronite Christian . 

Since all the anti Hezbollah and Amal candidates dropped out of the race for security reasons after being threatened and attacked on several occasions by Amal and Hezbollah thugs , only Hezbollah and Amal won parliament seats in the elections of last May 15.

Berri, 84 , who has been the speaker for 30 years , leads the Amal Movement which is allied with the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group . Hezbollah and its allies lost their majority in the parliament . They secured 58 seats down from 71 seats in the elections of last May 15 . 

The new independent MPs of the October 17th revolution and the two largest Christian Parliamentary blocs the Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic movement declared that they will not vote for Berri as speaker .

The LF and the October 17 MPS are expected to maintain their position, but according to Lebanese media reports , Hezbollah intervened and FPM is expected to vote for Berri in exchange for electing FPM MP Elias Abiu Saab as the deputy Speaker

 There are several candidates for the Deputy Speaker’s position and they are: Melhem Khalaf (October 17 revolution ), Ghassan Skaff an independent backed by PSP, Ghassan Hasbani (Lebanese Forces), Elias Bou Saab (Free Patriotic Movement), and Sajih Atiyeh (Akkar) , who promised to back Skaff if he doesn’t get enough votes

Even though Hezbollah and its allies lost their majority in the parliament , the opposition is not united .

On Sunday, May 15, 41% of the nearly four million Lebanese registered voters voted , amid skepticism about the emergence of a government capable of rescuing the nation from complete collapse .