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Aoun's call for direct presidential election's creates controversy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Lebanese Member of Parliament Michel Aoun, right, seals the envelope in which he wrote his vote to elect new Lebanese president at the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, on April 23, 2014. (EPA/Joseph Eid/Pool)

Lebanese Member of Parliament Michel Aoun, right, seals the envelope in which he wrote his vote to elect new Lebanese president at the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, on April 23, 2014. (EPA/Joseph Eid/Pool)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Lebanon’s March 14 Alliance presidential candidate Samir Geagea on Wednesday accused presidential rival Michel Aoun of blocking the much-delayed election of a successor to Michel Suleiman by suggesting controversial amendments to the constitution.

Geagea’s comments came after Lebanese parliament on Wednesday failed to elect a new president for the eight time. Lebanon’s parliament was unable to secure the requisite quorum for a vote with Speaker Nabih Berri adjourning parliament until July 23.

“Should we be amending the Constitution at a time the presidential seat has been vacant for over a month?” Geagea said in a televised press conference on Wednesday.

“Whoever is proposing constitutional amendments should recognize that parliament is exceptionally in session and the aim of such suggestions is merely to divert attention away from the presidential vacuum,” he added.

Earlier this week, Aoun suggested amending the constitution to transfer the power to elect the president from lawmakers to the general public. According to his suggestion, direct voting for Lebanon’s next president would take place over two rounds, with Lebanon’s Christians voting in the first round and the rest of the population voting in a runoff.

Meanwhile, Berri is set to hold a series of meetings with Lebanese political figures over the next two days to discuss the ongoing presidential vacuum.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat,. Shi’ite-led Amal Movement MP Michel Moussa said that Berri is making every effort to reach a resolution to the presidential vacuum.

“Berri is seeking to end the ongoing stalemate through presidential elections, particularly given the narrow constitutional deadline for holding parliamentary elections,” he said.

Fears over Lebanon’s presidential vacuum continue to escalate following the series of bombings in Beirut this month while parliamentary elections have been postponed until November over failures to pass a new election law.

Future Movement MP Ammar Houri told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The presidential elections are our primary choice, full stop.”

“We respect all national obligations, most prominently the parliamentary elections but we must concentrate first on ending the state of presidential vacuum,” the March 14 Alliance member added.

“In light of the presidential vacuum, it is unacceptable to act as if things are normal and the country is all right,” Houri said.