BEIRUT — MPs participating in a parliamentary joint committees meeting on Tuesday reached no decision amid chaos, shouting and exchange of insults.
Forces of Change MPs Melhem Khalaf and Paula Yaacoubian fiercely opposed Ghazi Zeaiter, an MP representing the Amal Movement, about respecting Parliament's internal rules.
Kataeb leader Sami Gemayel clashed with Amal's Ali Hassan Khalil over the holding of municipal elections which is scheduled for next May in the crisis-hit country.
The meeting of the Bureau of Parliament was postponed against a backdrop of controversy around the municipal elections.
Eight items were on the committees' agenda but no decisions were reached. The Finance and Budget, Administration and Justice, National Defense, Interior and Municipalities committees were supposed to discuss the organization of municipal elections but the descent into chaos cut things short.
The subject of a municipal election has become a source of controversy in Lebanon, with major Christian parties accusing the Amal movement, led by the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, of wanting to postpone the election.
'Khalaf wanted to give us moral lessons'
During the meeting on Tuesday, MP Khalaf's speech triggered a dispute with Ghazi Zeaiter.
"Mr. Khalaf started talking about Articles 74 and 75 of the Constitution, as he does at the start of each committee meeting," Zeaiter told L'Orient-Le Jour. "I asked the chairman of the session if this was in accordance with the rules or not." The session's chairman is Parliament's vice-president, Elias Bou Saab.
Lebanon has been without a president since the departure of Michel Aoun on Oct. 31. Articles 74 and 75 of the Lebanese constitution stipulate that Parliament must meet immediately to elect a president and is considered merely an electoral body in the event of a vacancy in the supreme magistracy.
"Mr. Zeaiter kept cutting off Melhem," Yaacoubian told L'Orient-Le Jour. "I reminded him that the rules allow you to talk about any point, the laws and the Constitution."
According to Yaacoubian, Zeaiter soon broke out shouting and criticized the "low level" parliament has reached.
“You are wanted by the law and you have the guts to speak?” Yaacoubian remarked.
Zeaiter is indicted in the investigation into the Beirut port 2020 blast.
When asked about the clash, Zeaiter said that it was "a somewhat muscular dialogue, it can happen. Mr. Khalaf wanted to give us lessons in morality and lessons in law. We are not going to let ourselves be talked about like that!"
Sami Gemayel vs. Ali Hassan Khalil
A clash between Ali Hassan Khalil and Sami Gemayel, concerning the organization of municipal elections, marked the end of the session.
Both Khalil and Gemayel avoided repeating their remarks at the end of the session.
"If I report what happened, I will participate in the division of the country where some want to take us," Gemayel told local media following the session. “I will submit it to Nabih Berri to see what he thinks about it,” he added, stressing that the exchange “damaged sacred values," without giving further details.
"The non-organization of municipal elections will lead to immense chaos and the government has several means to organize them," Gemayel said. “Especially since the amount required is $8 million and that is a quarter of what Banque du Liban pays daily for the Sayrafa platform."
"Parliament should not address the issue of SDRs [Special Drawing Rights of the International Monetary Fund] and we do not want to legally cover the use of these rights," Khalil said.
In the evening, Khalil apologized to Gemayel over a phone call later on Tuesday evening, according to a statement by the media office of Parliament Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab, who had contacted Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and briefed him on the details of the events of the meeting.
Berri then contacted the head of the Kataeb Party assuring him of his keenness to address what happened, according to Bou Saab's statement.
The statement also said that following the meeting, Bou Saab visited the headquarters of the Kataeb Party in Saifi, where he met with Gemayel and agreed with him on how to deal with the issue.
During his call with Gemayel, in which Bou Saab also participated, Khalil affirmed his full respect for the Kataeb Party and its leader.
BEIRUT — MPs participating in a parliamentary joint committees meeting on Tuesday reached no decision amid chaos, shouting and exchange of insults.Forces of Change MPs Melhem Khalaf and Paula Yaacoubian fiercely opposed Ghazi Zeaiter, an MP representing the Amal Movement, about respecting Parliament's internal rules. Kataeb leader Sami Gemayel clashed with Amal's Ali Hassan Khalil over the...