Lebanese President Michel Aoun suspended parliament for a month yesterday, temporarily blocking plans to extend the assembly’s term without election for the third time since 2013 to try to push politicians to agree election law reforms.
Parliament was expected to vote yesterday to extend its own mandate again until 2018, officials said. The lawmakers were elected in 2009 for what was meant to be a four-year term.
The president’s move eased tensions simmering after activists had called for protests against the planned extension, which they decried as a blow to democracy. The two previous extensions triggered massive protests in central Beirut.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said that it marked the first time a president had used the procedure and that the session had been postponed until 15 May.
In a televised address to the nation, Aoun said the delay would give politicians more time to agree on a new electoral law and help protect the Lebanese people’s right to vote.
He said there would be no room for another extension “in the era of the revival of the state, its authorities and its institutions”.
Activists were not satisfied with the president’s actions. “The Lebanese president’s move today remains incomplete” without political parties setting a new date for elections, said activist Hadi Mounla. “It postponed the problem for a month, but did not radically solve the problem.”
Another protester, Atallah Slim, said this should serve as “the last warning” for lawmakers.