No imminent resolution to Lebanon’s presidential vacuum: PM

Published May 18th, 2015 - 04:00 GMT

Lebanon’s presidential vacuum is unlikely to find an imminent solution as a result of disputes between Lebanese political blocs, Prime Minister Tammam Salam said Sunday.

“The positions of political blocs reveal that the issue is moving toward more disruption rather than the necessary solution,” Salam said in an interview with Qatar’s Al-Sharq newspaper Sunday.

Salam described the presidential crisis as an “aberration that allows for the emergence of proposals that weaken the Lebanese system and constitution."

Salam also expressed his rejection of proposals to the crisis that stem from the belief that the vacuum is the result of shortcomings in the 1989 Taif Accord, which ended the 1975-90 Civil War and shifted many of the Maronite president’s prerogatives to the premier and Cabinet.

“The constitution is not responsible for the [crisis] we are in,” he said, asserting that political forces were to blame for the presidential stalemate.

“Throwing the [blame] on the system’s architecture and its in my opinion an escape from responsibility."

Last week, lawmakers failed in their 23 consecutive session to elect a successor to former President Michel Sleiman, whose term ended last May, amid a feud between the country's rival factions on a consensus candidate.

Lawmakers from Michel Aoun’s parliamentary Change and Reform bloc, Hezbollah MPs and their March 8 allies have thwarted a quorum since April 2014 by boycotting parliamentary sessions, demanding an agreement beforehand with their March 14 rivals over a consensus candidate.

The first election session achieved quorum, but no candidate received enough votes.

Regarding the appointment of new security and military chiefs, Salam said that the stability of security and military agencies was a top priority.

If political forces are incapable of agreeing on new security and military chiefs then the institutions should not become subject to any vacancies, he said, hinting that further disagreement would result in the extension of the mandates of Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi, who retires on Sept. 23, and Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, who retires on June 5.


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