BEIRUT — The Forces of Change parliamentary bloc on Saturday said that they will meet with all parliamentary groups in order to reach an agreement regarding a new president and establish the profile of the upcoming president based on a list of “standards,” in preparation for the presidential elections which period started on Wednesday. The MPs also threatened to resort to "popular pressure methods" if a new head of state is not elected before Oct. 20, 2022.
In a press conference MP Melhem Khalaf and MP Michel Douaihy read the bloc’s statement listing the standards for a new president, which include “maintaining Lebanon’s independence and its sovereignty internally and externally, its unity and the safety of its territories, and to be independent of regional axes and international polarizations on one hand, but capable of getting back Lebanon’s external role.”
Among the standards the Forces of Change put forward for a new president is for the candidate to be “a believer in a citizenship state that is non-sectarian” and that also “ take the side of the majority of the Lebanese people." According to the MPs, the next president should be ready to change the balance of power through a delicate determining of losses in the state's finances, protection of the state's assets and a fair distribution of responsibilities for bearing the losses on the country's commercial banks and their owners and shareholders and the beneficiaries of the financial engineering while protecting people’s deposits.”
The Forces of Change MPs said the new president should also force the resumption of the investigation of the Aug. 4, 2020 port explosion and protect it from political intervention. The investigation for the port blast has been suspended for months due to numerous requests to remove its head, Judge Tarek Bitar, by senior politicians whom the investigation has summoned for questioning.
In their statement, the Forces of Change MPs said they will pursue this initiative until Oct. 20, 10 days before President Michel Aoun’s term ends, “and in case this deadline comes without an election of a new president in accordance to the standards of this initiative, we will seek popular pressure methods in all shapes starting Oct. 21 for the purpose of forcing the election of a new president” before Oct. 31 when Aoun’s term ends.
Before that deadline, the group will hold a series of "consultative meetings" with citizens and political officials, in Lebanon and with the diaspora abroad, in order to present their initiative. They will start with "the groups and personalities" who believe in the values resulting from the Oct. 17, 2019 protest movement before meeting "all the other political forces, to reach an agreement on the name of a person who will be able to "save" the country and benefit from the wider support possible from Parliament.
In the context of their potential cooperation with other political groups, Forces of Change MPs met Friday with three of their independent colleagues from Saida, Oussama Saad, Abdel Rahman Bizri and Charbel Massad, as they discussed the potential of collective work including in the matters of a law that facilitates alternative power and the internal system of Parliament. They have also previously met several times with other opposition groups and individuals, including Kataeb, Michel Mouawad and Ashraf Rifi.