BEIRUT — Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil in a press conference on Tuesday accused “the Shiite duo” — a reference to the Amal Movement and Hezbollah — of being behind the Constitutional Council’s move Tuesday not to take a decision on an appeal that his parliamentary bloc submitted to repeal amendments made to the electoral law approved by Parliament in late October.
Here’s what we know:
• The FPM leader accompanied his remarks about the reasons behind the council’s actions with a warning, saying “this will have political consequences.” He did not elaborate on what these repercussions might be.
• Bassil also blamed Amal, Hezbollah and Prime Minister Najib Mikati for the government’s suspension of meetings, saying “there is no excuse for not holding cabinet sessions.”
• Mikati’s cabinet has not met since Oct. 12 due to fears that disagreement among its members over Judge Tarek Bitar’s leadership of the investigation into the 2020 Beirut port explosion would lead to Amal and Hezbollah affiliated ministers walking out of the session.
• Earlier Tuesday the Constitutional Council did not reach a decision on an appeal submitted by FPM to overturn amendments made to the electoral law, which Parliament approved in late October. The council’s failure to reach a decision means the amendments remain effective. The amendments include allowing expatriates to vote from abroad in whichever of the 15 electoral districts in Lebanon from which they hail.
• If the amendments had been overturned, as the FPM wanted, expatriates would have voted for six MPs in their own, 16th, constituency.
• Bassil described the council’s move as “disabling for an important pillar in the Lebanese judiciary” and alleged that a “political decision” was made for it to take place.
• The FPM head also claimed he received a call ahead of the Constitutional Council ruling, offering him a deal under which the council would accept his appeal in return for him agreeing to limit Bitar’s remit in the port blast investigation.
• Hezbollah and the FPM have been allied since the parties made what is known as the Mar Mikhael agreement in 2006; however, the alliance has come under pressure over the parties’ opposing stances on Bitar’s leadership of the blast probe, with the FPM’s founder President Michel Aoun reportedly refusing to accept his removal from the investigation.
• Shortly before Bassil’s speech, Samir Geagea, the leader of rival Christian party the Lebanese Forces, welcomed the Constitutional Council’s move, saying “congratulations to the Lebanese expats and for us all for how things turned out.” He also called on the government to schedule a date for the 2022 polls.