Elections Call Escalates Lebanon Crisis

The Lebanese opposition's call for early general elections would likely further complicate the political crisis polarizing the tiny country

Elections Call Escalates Lebanon Crisis

"The parliamentary majority will support the opposition's call for early elections only if they started first with the president of the republic," Youth Minister Ahmed Fatfat told Al-Jazeera news channel.

The ruling coalition wants the ouster of President Emile Lahoud, whose term was extended for three years in September 2004.

The coalition sees Lahoud as a Syrian alley whose new term was forced on the Lebanese people by Syria, which then had the upper hand over politicians in its neighboring country.

The opposition announced Monday that they were shifting their demands form a national unity government to early general elections.

"The different groups of the opposition decided to call for a new law for parliamentary elections and early parliamentary elections," former premier Omar Karami told reporters following an opposition meeting at his home.

He said the decision was taken "to resolve the crisis provoked by the obstinacy of the illegitimate government."

Thousands of opposition supporters have been holding round-the-clock street protests since December 1 demanding a new national unity government following the resignation of five ministers representing the Shiite community.

The West-backed government of Fouad Siniora has rejected opposition demands, accusing the opposition of seeking a veto power in the government that could be used in blocking crucial decisions, including an international tribunal on the 2005 assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri.

Christian opposition leader Michael Aoun said "the only solution to the crisis lies in early elections."

Lebanon's last elections were held in 2005 after the withdrawal of Syrian troops which lasted almost three decades, and resulted in an anti-Syrian parliamentary majority for the first time in 30 years.


Aoun said the only solution to the crisis lies in early elections. 

The government accused the opposition of trying to nip in the bud Arab mediation efforts.

Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh accused the opposition of deliberately misconstruing Moussa's proposal to form a consensual government in which the ruling coalition would have 19 seats and the opposition 10, with the remaining minister designated as "neutral."

He said Moussa's initiative include "in a later stage, presidential elections followed by parliamentary elections, which we welcome and challenge anyone who can say he will win in these elections over us."

Moussa is due in Beirut later Tuesday on his third visit to the country since the opposition went to the streets to topple the government.

Even while changing its demands from unity government to early elections, the opposition has vowed to cooperate with Moussa.

"We will cooperate as much as possible with Amr Moussa and wish him luck," Karami said in a statement.

Hizbullah media officer Hussein Rahhal told IslamOnline.net that the elections call was a "natural move" as the government has proved adamant and refused to meet the opposition demands since the beginning of the open-ended sit-in.

Political analyst Sarkis Abu Zeid said the opposition had to call for early elections after the government had not honored its promises with Moussa on forming a six-member committee to discuss the Hariri tribunal.

Hamadeh has ridiculed the committee proposal suggested by Moussa, saying it "could take till 2010," to approve the tribunal.

Eqab Sakr, another Lebanese analyst, said the opposition is preempting a government bid to topple Lahoud for refusing to sign a decree on holding partial parliamentary elections to fill the seat of assassinated MP Pierre Gemayel.

Sakr said the opposition also wanted to appear in the driver seat after almost three weeks of non-stop protests, raising the stakes by calling for early elections.

Source: islamonline.net

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16