Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel reiterated Sunday that the priority goes to the election of a president whose presence is key to the State's survival and welfare, saying that the country has reached a surrealistic phase in which everything is becoming abnormal.
“Focus must be centered now on the election of a president; other issues should be discussed later on,” Gemayel said in an interview on New TV. “We cannot be blamed for preventing the discussion of political reforms just because we want to keep the presidential vote as a top priority.”
“I am against shelving the presidential vote to focus on other minor issues,” he stressed, adding that any political reforms must not be mulled in the absence of a head of State.
Gemayel said that he would support any reformist action provided that a favorable atmosphere is secured first, adding that a headless State is not ready for structural changes.
“We have repeatedly stressed the need for dialogue; however, talks have taken a wrong turn as priorities were reshuffled,” Gemayel said.
“Linking the establishment of a Senate to the electoral law implies an attempt to cancel parliamentary polls,” he noted.
“Proposing the establishment of a Senate in such a short time notice ahead of the parliamentary polls is aimed at dashing any agreement on a new electoral law,” Gemayel explained. "Are we supposed to believe that we can establish a Senate and approve a new electoral law within 3 months?”
Gemayel pointed out that the Parliament is the sole authority entitled to discuss any structural issues related to the political system, saying that the national dialogue cannot replace it.
“I don’t regret taking part in the national dialogue," he stressed, calling on Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea to reconsider his stance and join the talks.
Asked about the recent statement made by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk who revealed that a president will likely be elected by the end of year, Gemayel said that expecting the vote to be achieved after around four months is not good news, warning that things are getting worse with each day of delay.
“During the dialogue sessions, certain factions explicitly stated that they have the right to obstruct the presidential vote and said that their position will not change,” he said. “There are 40 lawmakers who are jeopardizing the country by preventing the election of a president."
Gemayel deemed it as unacceptable and shameful to link the presidential vote to foreign developments, saying that it the Kataeb's mission to reject this de-facto reality.
"Otherwise, we would be considered as accomplices," he said.
“The Constitution does not stipulate the election of the candidate who has the largest support among the Christian community; if it did, then there would be no need for the voting process,” he said.
The Kataeb leader reiterated his support for the election of a consensus president "who will gradually build a wide popular base", saying that the stances voiced by each of the two presidential candidates prevent the party from voting for any of them.
Gemayel renewed his call for the government to resign and stop making crucial decisions, saying this step would stop dubious deals that are burdening the treasury with exorbitant costs.
“A party must not base its decisions on the gains they would generate," Gemayel noted, saying that the Kataeb party didn't hesitate to withdraw from the government regardless what this decision would entail.
“We are not seeking to make any gains through our political decisions; therefore, we have no constraints,” he stated.
Gemayel urged Speaker Nabih Berri to conclude discussions regarding the electoral law and put all proposals to the vote, saying that the 1960 electoral law will likely be readopted if things remain unchanged.
“By holding the polls on the 1960 law, the same lawmakers will be elected again and, thus, change will become far-fetched,” he said.
"The Kataeb party will keep seeking change. We shall base our electoral alliances based on convergent viewpoints and shared constants," he noted.
The Kataeb chief renewed support for a voting law based on single-member districts, saying that such a system secures fair representation.
Gemayel affirmed that a State cannot be build in the presence of paramilitary groups, stressing that the Shiite community must not feel as targeted each time the issue of Hezbollah arms is tackled.
“We must stop accusing each other of treason. By accepting the presence of a paramilitary armed force, we are abandoning the sacrifices made by 6000 Kataeb martyrs,” he said.
“The decision-making power related to peace and war must be exclusively assumed by the State,” Gemayel said. “We want to build a country along with Hezbollah based on clear guidelines that favor Lebanon's interest over anything else.”
“Instead of making unilateral decisions and actions, we must cooperate to ward off any danger against the country,” he pointed out.
Gemayel stressed that the Kataeb party is seeking is to "Lebanonize" the political life in collaboration with all local factions, notably Hezbollah, adding that a country cannot be built without mutual trust.
“Since I first started my political career, I pledged to stay honest with myself and others because a country cannot be built on lies,” he said.
Gemayel pointed out that one's political affiliation must not be based on affection, but rather on the long-term project and vision proposed by each of the political parties.
He also stressed the need to readopt ethical standards as the political performance has reached a degraded level.
Gemayel slammed corruption that is shrouding the waste management crisis, affirming that the government's plan to dump waste along the Metn coast will not be allowed to come into effect.
“How can ministers keep mum and turn a blind eye to the wrongdoings related to the waste crisis?” he asked.
Gemayel recalled the events of 7 August 200, deploring the loss of unity and solidarity as each of the local factions has now its own cause and goals.
“For our part, we are still holding onto our values as we are still seeking a powerful State,” he said. “The people will eventually enforce accountability by recognizing which party has safeguarded its values or abandoned them."
"We will not fear change provided that we keep our unwavering determination to build the country we have always dreamed of," Gemayel concluded. "Our project is Lebanese, not sectarian. Our goal is to build a civilized country that the Lebanese would be proud of."