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Lebanon: Christian Opposition to Aoun Mounts, His Deputies Remain Silent

Lebanon: Christian Opposition to Aoun Mounts, His Deputies Remain Silent

Sunday, 9 August, 2020 - 11:15
A demonstrator steps on a picture of Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during a protest following Tuesday’s blast, in Beirut, Lebanon August 8, 2020 (REUTERS/ELLEN FRANCIS)

The resignations of a number of deputies reflected a growing Christian opposition to President Michel Aoun.

Four Christian MPs resigned on Saturday. Two of them are from Beirut’s first district, Nadim Gemayel and Paula Yacoubian, while the two others are Sami Gemayel and Elias Hankash from the Kataeb party, in addition to former Minister and MP Marwan Hamadeh, who had announced his resignation last week.

On Sunday, MP Neemat Frem announced his resignation during a visit to Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai.

The same day, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad withdrew from the Cabinet, to become the second minister to leave after Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti.

The Lebanese Forces deputies also hinted at the possibility to withdraw from Parliament.

MP Michel Daher, for his part, said that he would no longer belong to the FPM’s Strong Lebanon bloc and would join MP Shamel Roukoz as an independent deputy. MP Michel Mouawad is also expected to make a similar decision.

Speaker Nabih Berri will hold a legislative session, during which he is supposed to recite the letters of resignation before the deputies. The resignation becomes legally binding as soon as it is read out in the session and opens the door for the by-elections to fill the vacant seats within sixty days of the announcement.

According to Lebanese law, Parliament is considered resigned with the withdrawal of half of its deputies.

For the first time in Lebanon’s modern history, two Christian seats in Beirut’s first district and two Maronite seats in the district of Metn become vacant. Sources said that the possibility of holding by-elections under the current circumstances would not be easy.

The sources believe that the growing Christian resentment against Aoun is due to the fact that the Christian street considers itself the most affected, and has paid a heavy price for the lassitude of the state.

Meanwhile, the deputies who still belong to Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) are maintaining silence for the first time and refraining from launching campaigns in support of the president.

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