Lebanon’s President and Prime Minister Are Having a Battle of Statements

In a statement his office made today, caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri accused President Michel Aoun of violating the Lebanese constitution. Hariri’s office made the statement to address the Free Patriotic Movement’s alleged decision to cede their votes to President Aoun in the upcoming parliamentary consultations.

 

The statement announced that “In the framework of the political contacts prior to the parliamentary consultations that were set for today, it turned out that the Free Patriotic Movement was planning to deposit its votes with the President of the Republic so that he uses them as he wishes.”

Hariri’s office called the FPM’s decision a  “grave constitutional violation,” reminding of “the constitutional breach that martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri faced during President Emile Lahoud’s term,” asserting that “Prime Minister Hariri cannot cover such a grave constitutional violation, regardless of its use, in designating any prime minister.”

@saadhaririembedded via  

 

Responding to PM Hariri, the office of the presidency also published a statement via Twitter, calling the accusation “pure fabrications.”

The statement assured that “President Aoun is keen on the constitution and does not need lessons from anyone.” It claimed that the motive behind Hariri’s accusations of the President is “to justify the wish to postpone the consultations,” calling it out as “an open attempt to justify [the postponement], ignoring other reasons.”

 

The Presidency’s statement also played a reverse on the “constitutional breach” accusation, indirectly telling Hariri that it “goes back to its owners, who should have known the constitutional rules and abandoned practices that contradict the text and spirit of the constitution.”

In context, the binding parliamentary consultations to designate the next Prime Minister of Lebanon, which were scheduled for Monday, December 16th, were postponed three days by President Michel Aoun in compliance with caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s request.

 

Initially, Hariri reportedly requested that the consultations be held next Monday, but President Aoun refused and opted to hold them this Thursday instead. He said he made the request to allow more time for discussion before the consultations take place.

But according to some analyses, PM Hariri’s wish to postpone the binding parliamentary consultations actually stems from the fact that more than one party, including the FPM and the Lebanese Forces, have announced their unwillingness to name Hariri to head the next cabinet.

@maglebanonembedded via  

 

The resigned Prime Minister reportedly had secured a total of 60 parliamentary votes; less than half of the total number of MPs. Thus, his chances to be elected were not very high.

This means that Hariri remains attached to his position as Prime Minister of Lebanon regardless of his previous announcement that he intends to head the Lebanese government no more.