BEIRUT — Forces of Change MP Najat Aoun Saliba on Monday ended her eight-month sit-in at Parliament, which had been aimed at pushing for an end to the presidential vacuum, over concerns that a solution to the election deadlock was not yet in sight.
Saliba and fellow Forces of Change MP Melhem Khalaf began the sit-in together on Jan. 19, after one of many failed presidential election sessions by Parliament.
Lebanon is suffering from the first double executive vacuum in its history. The country has been without a president since Oct. 31, when Michel Aoun's term ended, and the cabinet has been in caretaker status since the May 2022 parliamentary elections.
The most recent electoral session aimed at electing a president took place on June 14. It was also unsuccessful due to a lack of political agreement and loss of quorum. It was the 12th failed session to find a successor for Michel Aoun.
Since the beginning of their sit-in, the two MPs have justified their strike with Article 75 of the Lebanese Constitution, which stipulates: "The chamber meeting to elect the President of the Republic shall be considered an electoral body and not a legislative assembly. It must proceed immediately, without discussion of any other act, to elect the Head of the State." In other words, Parliament should work solely to elect a president, without undertaking any other actions, until a new head of state is chosen.
On Monday, Saliba announced in a statement: "We firmly believed that the objective, internal opportunity was favorable at that time to elect a president of the republic, but we discovered that the reality on the ground was completely different."
For his part, Khalaf will continue the sit-in "until an open session is held in successive rounds," Saliba said.
'Lebanon has fallen outside history and geography'
In her statement, Saliba said that Parliament has "abandoned its constitutional duty, surrendering to the will of the vacuum, which is supervised by Parliament Speaker [Nabih Berri] and whoever goes along with him, resigning from his previous conception and determination from his role."
"In light of this, it has become necessary for me, personally, to pursue my national interests, including those in the areas of my environmental specialty. I have developed an integrated environmental plan, in cooperation and coordination with environmental specialists and international and local bodies and institutions, to put this plan into effect throughout the entire Lebanese territory," she said.
Lebanon has become "vulnerable to foreign, regional and international interests and interests," Saliba added in her statement. "Lebanon, with its political decision and the collusion of corruption, weapons, and sectarianism, has fallen outside history and geography."
Berri announced in an interview published Monday by the Lebanese daily al-Liwaa that he is to hold "open session with successive rounds until a president is elected — like electing the pope in Rome."
He said that the open session would be held "at the beginning of October," following a dialogue initiative for various political parties to agree on a candidate.
BEIRUT — Forces of Change MP Najat Aoun Saliba on Monday ended her eight-month sit-in at Parliament, which had been aimed at pushing for an end to the presidential vacuum, over concerns that a solution to the election deadlock was not yet in sight.Saliba and fellow Forces of Change MP Melhem Khalaf began the sit-in together on Jan. 19, after one of many failed presidential election sessions by...