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Lebanese Parliament Heads Toward a Third Term Extension | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this May 31, 2013, file photo, Lebanese lawmakers meet in the Lebanese Parliament during a session to debate whether to extend their term 17 months, in Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Beirut – The Lebanese parliament is heading towards extending its own term for the third time in a row, as political parties have failed to agree on a new electoral law within the constitutional deadline.

A legislative session will be held Thursday in Beirut, during which Lebanese deputies are expected to vote on the extension of their term by approving an urgent draft-law submitted by MP Nicolas Fattoush.

According to Fattoush, the legislature’s mandate will be extended until June 2018 due to “extraordinary circumstances” in the country.

Sources close to Speaker Nabih Berri told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Thursday’s session would likely witness a new extension of parliament’s term, in order to avoid political vacuum and to give the Lebanese factions enough time to agree on a new electoral law.

However, both the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the Lebanese Forces (LF) parties have announced that they would boycott the parliamentary session, voicing their strong rejection to any legislative extension.

FPM leader and Foreign Affairs Minister Jebran Bassil pledged to oppose the extension with all possible means.

“We will face the extension by boycotting the session and through street [protests] and the government,” Bassil said on Tuesday, addressing reporters following the weekly meeting of the parliamentary Change and Reform bloc. He went on to describe the extension move as “shameful”.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, LF MP Elie Keyrouz voiced his party’s rejection to the extension.

Keyrouz noted that the Lebanese people have granted their representatives eight years to agree on an electoral law, “but such an agreement did not take place”.

While he stressed that the LF was against vacuum in the country’s constitutional institutions, he noted that deputies should agree on a fair electoral law during the remaining time of parliament’s term (which ends in June).