BEIRUT – Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Friday responded negatively to the decree signed by President Michel Aoun that calls for an extraordinary session of Parliament. “Parliament is master of itself and it is not bound to the bills or proposals that the Council Bureau decides to put forward [about the agenda of the session],” he said.
Here’s what we know:
• "The President has a right to reply after the texts are sent by the General Assembly to the Council. This is what the constitution provides,” Berri added.
• However, according to Article 33 of the Lebanese Constitution, the President may convene the parliament in an extraordinary session by decree. Aoun signed a decree on Thursday to open an extraordinary session of Parliament from January 10 to March 21, while parliament meetings were not scheduled to resume before spring.
• The decree issued by the Lebanese Presidency defines the agenda of the extraordinary session. Parliament will be called to discuss laws already adopted and other laws that the President can ask deputies to reconsider, as well as proposals for laws of urgency and those related to legislative elections.
• The chamber will also have to consider possible texts related to urgent and necessary reforms and the financial recovery plan. Other laws, including one on capital control and the recovery of funds transferred abroad, will also be discussed, as well as the state budget plan for 2022.
• A source from Baabda Palace told L’Orient Today that the signing of the decree “is proof that the President has used his constitutional prerogatives to open this session and define the agenda that includes laws that Aoun had already pleaded for, in particular the texts on urgent economic reforms, and the one on capital control,” which has been pending for more than two years.
• “The prerogatives of the President of the Republic, enshrined in the constitution, have been respected,” said the source, adding that the decree from Aoun requires the parliament to examine the bills and proposals mentioned in it, but specifies that it leaves the door open for the Council Bureau to make decisions within the framework of the decree.
• The opening of an extraordinary session of Parliament was perceived by activists as an obstacle to the investigation into the Beirut port explosion, since the resumption of parliamentary meetings ensures the constitutional immunity of members of Parliament. Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter representing the Amal Movement are both being prosecuted in the port blast probe.