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Lebanese Forces Party leader calls for early elections after Beirut explosion

Bassem Aly , Monday 10 Aug 2020
Samir Gagea
File Photo: Samir Gagea, the head of the Lebanese Forces Party Reuters
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The leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces Party has called for early parliamentary elections following last week's explosion in Beirut's port.

Samir Geagea, addressing reporters, blamed the Shiite Hezbollah movement for the country's ongoing crisis because of its parliamentary majority, believing that the resignation of the Hezbollah-backed government is not enough to solve the crisis.

Hezbollah, according to a Reuters report, has 12 MPs in the 128-seat parliament. But, when adding those who back it, the Shiite group ends up having the support of at least 70 MPs.

These forces include parliament speaker Nabih Berry's Amal movement, a Shiite group, and other small Hezbollah-aligned parties such as the Maronite Christian Marada Party, the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, the Baath Party, the Armenian Tashnag and the Druze Lebanese Democratic Party.  

Hezbollah is also backed by 11 independent MPs.

"Those who formed this government can form another one as long as they are in power," Sky News Arabia quoted the head of the Christian party as saying.

Geagea stated that holding early elections on the basis of the present election law represents the best political solution for Lebanon to end Hezbollah's control over the parliament. 

Geagea's Lebanese Forces, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party, and Sunni leader Saad Al-Hariri's Future Movement are not represented in this government.  

Prime Minister Hassan Diab formed the current coalition in January 2019 after being nominated by Hezbollah and President Michel Aoun, an ally of the former.

Diab's coalition only included Hezbollah’s allies after Al-Hariri, who sought to form a government before him, failed to reach an agreement with the Iran-backed movement amid protests against all political forces and a severe economic crisis. 

Geagea said that creating a new government to replace Diab’s Hezbollah-backed one is a waste of time, for it would have to work with the current parliament.

So far, the ministers of justice, information, and the environment have officially resigned, and local media reports suggest – though this remains unconfirmed – that they are about to be joined by Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni.

Ahead of Beirut's port explosion on 4 August, foreign minister Nassif Hitti also resigned "given the absence of an effective will to achieve comprehensive structural reform which our society and the international community have urged us to do."

A number of parliamentarians also resigned, including three from Samy Gemayel's Kataeb Party, another Christian political force. Other MPs are likely to follow the same path.

Beirut's governor Marwan Abboud announced on Monday that the number of people who lost their lives from the explosion has reached 200. Lebanon's health ministry said on Saturday that 6,000 others are wounded.

Some 300,000 Lebanese citizens are currently homeless.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab will reportedly resign on Monday.

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