Hezbollah rejects cabinet’s constitutional amendment draft

By Xinhua

Beirut : Hezbollah on Wednesday rejected a constitutional amendment bill adopted by the majority government to open the door for the election of Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman as president.

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The constitutional amendment bill by the government was tantamount to “usurping presidential powers,” said a statement released by Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc.

“That provides clear evidence to the crime of premeditated usurping of authority and a coup against the constitution, despite (the fact) that what has been adopted by the government two days ago carries no constitutional or practical values,” the statement said.

The bill “is a provocative measure designed to test the opposition’s response,” the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc said, warning that “such a performance opens the door to new complications for which the authority would be held fully responsible.”

Earlier on Monday, Lebanese government wrote down a bill amending the constitution that paves the way for electing Suleiman to the presidency.

The government also approved a motion for an extraordinary legislative session of the parliament as of Jan. 1, 2008.

The post of president has been vacant since former President Emile Lahoud’s term expired on Nov. 24, as rival camps failed to agree on a successor.

The two sides have agreed on Suleiman as the man for the top post, but still remain at odds over the election process and the shape of a new government.

Lebanese ruling coalition and the Hezbollah-led opposition have been separated by a wide chasm since six of the latter’s ministers resigned from Prime Minister Fouad Seniora’s government in November last year.