Aoun overturns the “departure table” … a presidential and governmental constitutional vacuum … and Mikati refuses: unconstitutional

Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Sunday left the presidential palace amid the support and presence of his supporters in his Free Patriotic Movement party, anticipating his exit by signing a decree that considered the resignation of the interim government. in a step that increases the complexity of the country’s political scene.

Without a candidate in able to obtain the required majority in parliament, the political vacuum risks aggravating the country’s crises in the light of the economic collapse in acceleration of three years ago and the impossibility of forming a government since May.

A judicial source told Reuters that “the government will continue to do business despite this.”

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced his rejection of Aoun’s decision, considering it unconstitutional.

In his letter to Parliament, Aoun said his step came after Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati expressed “his lack of enthusiasm for writing for various reasons” and cut him off to “convene cabinet sessions. ” in contravention of “the concept of conducting business in strict sense. “

Aoun described the sentence in Lebanon as revenge, which is a crime, indicating that the judiciary does not meet the demands of justice for the people, and said: I leave the country while it is stolen.

Aoun’s step is a precedent in Lebanon, where the President of the Republic must issue a decree accepting the resignation of the government, on the same day he signs the decrees appointing the prime minister and forming the new government. The three decrees are issued together.

However, constitutional experts downplay the repercussions and place it in the context of the “political conflict” between the two men, according to the AFP.

The political rivalries between the two heads of government and the country’s presidency have created a new constitutional dispute, as Aoun and his team politician they put in doubt the constitutionality of the management of the country by the provisional government and the charter of this passage in the light of the void, and the possibility of assuming its functions during this period, in a country managed by sectarian balances and quotas between them, where the Presidency of the Republic knew the quota of Maronite Christians, while the government presidency knew the quota of Muslim Sunnis, which allowed Aoun to present the charter for Mikati and his government to govern in the presidential vacuum.

Government response

After Aoun’s move, Mikati announced, in a note, that “the government will continue to perform all its constitutional duties, including the conduct of business in compliance with the provisions of the constitution and the regulations that sponsor its work, unless the House of Representatives has a contrary opinion ».

And he held that «the decree that accepted the resignation of the government, which has already resigned in based on the provisions of the constitution, it has no constitutional value ».

what does it mean?

In this regard, the head of the human rights organization JUSTICIA, Paul Morcos, states that “it is customary and constitutionally recognized, which has risen to the level of constitutional custom, that the President of the Republic every time the government resigns or is considered resigned with certain rights, such as the beginning of the mandate of the House of Representatives.As is our current situation, the president will designate a prime minister on the basis of binding parliamentary consultations in compliance with the constitution post-Taif.

Morcos continued: “Therefore, after having agreed on the government, he signs 3 decrees, of which 2 signed by the president alone pursuant to article 54 of the constitution, which is the decree that appoints the new prime minister and the decree that accepts the government resigning or considering resignation. “

Regarding what happened now, he added: “The President of the Republic, without reaching an agreement on the new government between him and the designated Prime Minister, issued a decree believing that the government had only resigned, without the enactment the other two decrees, in order to perpetuate the resignation of the current government for the beginning of the New Parliament legislature.

He continued: “The enactment of this decree alone without the other two decrees, even if it would leave political confusion, but it will not change the constitutional data, such as the decree that accepts the resignation of the government or considers it resigned as is the current reality with the beginning of the mandate of the Chamber of Deputies, where he is considered resigned pursuant to Article 69 of the Constitution is a constitutional data of government, and therefore this decree is not considered a building decree, but rather a declaratory decree, the effects of who merely declare constitutionality since the government is itself in first resigned.

He explained that Aoun’s option to sign the government dismissal decree “will not in itself have a constitutional effect, but will have a political effect that politicians who oppose the idea of ​​transferring the powers of the President of the Republic after the presidential vacancy to a provisional government under Article 62 of the Constitution, which they interpret as an interruption of the transfer of power. Therefore, we expect the issue to leave room to consolidate this political vision rather than create a new constitutional provision. “

Morcos stressed that “at a minimum, there is a rule that regulates the absence of a vacuum in governance, which is the continuation of the work of constitutional public utility, in the sense that there is no interruption in governance. All that matters. it is that the passing authority, which here is the government, must abide by the minimum necessary acts of government, give legitimacy to whoever succeeds it, and nothing else.

Aoun had a chat with reporters on the sidelines of his last meetings at Palazzo Baabda before his departure, during which he renewed the threat to sign the government’s resignation. It can be violated. “

Constitutional fact

However, according to what policy and law experts believe, the continuation of the provisional government is a fait accompli that is protected by the constitution, according to an earlier report from the site. web by Al-Hurra.

According to what the lawyer Haitham Ezzo confirms to Al-Hurra, the constitution explicitly states that in case of vacancy to the presidency of the republic, the powers of the president are entrusted to an agency of the Council of Ministers, “and this means that the existing cabinet becomes the agent by text constitutionally, without changing the form of this government and its entity constitutional, whether it is a regular government or a resigned government “.

As for the second point relating to the effect of the signing by the Lebanese president of a decree accepting the resignation of the government before his departure, according to Ezzo, “it does not change the constitutional entity of the current government, and does not affect its powers limited to the conduct of business (..). “

He continues by explaining that the decree accepting the government’s resignation is “a decree declaring its state originally constituted by a constitutional sentence following the parliamentary elections, and is not caused by the decree of the Presidency of the Republic in how not structural, and can not change anything in the constitutional equation, nor in the practical treatment in loco, and it is not up to him to abort constitutional and political life, given that what leads to this is only the signing of a decree to form a new government to succeed and exercise its powers.

For his part, the political writer, Johnny Mounir, said in a previous interview on the site web of Al-Hurra: “In reality and on the ground, the existing authority is the one that holds things and fills the void, and guarantees the continuity of the state until the election of a new president for Lebanon, and the provisional government is in able to do so, especially because in these cases the real owner of the situation is the institution of the Lebanese army.

Therefore, Munir expects, in the next phase, that things will go as they currently are, “the interim government continues to constitutionally rule the country and the political conflict and rhetorical escalation between political parties. in conflict over constitutionalism will continue “.

presidential vacancy

Lebanon has already entered the presidential vacancy phase, after the end of Aoun’s mandate, and there is no capacity and agreement to elect a new president through the divided parliament, and there is no possibility of a new government being born, in light of the clash between Aoun’s team and Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati.

Interestingly, Aoun’s presidential term began on October 31, 2016, which forces him to end on October 31, 2022, as the presidential term under the Lebanese constitution extends for 6 years, and just as Aoun took over the presidency after a presidential void that lasted two years and about 5 months, handed his position over to the void, again without a handover ceremony and without any indication of the time this void can reach.

The Lebanese parliament failed to elect a new president for the country in 4 sessions dedicated to this during the last phase, the last of which was on 24 October, as the parliamentary blocks emanating from the elections last May were not in able to agree on a candidate who would be accepted by the required majority, while the proposed names remained. It is a long way from reaching a majority, and the weighted blocks resort to voting with a white paper or symbolic terms that prove there is no candidate yet, in waiting for a specific agreement or agreement.