Lebanese Parliamentarians extend their own mandates While the Rights of Citizens Remain Neglected

Tue, 07/09/2013

Once again, Lebanese Parliamentarians place their own political interests ahead of those of women and men citizens and their rights, at a time of deepening political rift and polarization and a heightened struggle for power in the country. This new development comes against the backdrop of increased alignments by various Lebanese political circles to the two current conflicting regional axis thus undermining any possibility of dialogue on national strategic and political options and disrupting any opportunities for reaching a general political settlement that places at its center the rights of women and men citizens.
 
Fierce internal strife and a continuing regional–international conflict aiming at redrawing the map of the region have combined to erode the validity of the country’s current political system further weakening Lebanon’s institutions one after the other.
 
Hence, the swift and rather unforeseen resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and the still unsuccessful efforts by designated Prime Minister Tammam Salam to form the new government, the extension of the mandate of the parliament took place after the failure of political parties to agree on a new election law, the disruption of the work of the Constitutional Council as a result of political polarizations, and more recently the paralysis of the Parliament. Thus, general political deterioration manifested itself at a time when the country is feeling the full impact of the deteriorating situation in Syria and the region at all levels, namely security, political and economic.
 
Undoubtedly, the responsibility for what is happening is borne by all political factions albeit in varying degrees depending on the level of involvement in Syria and wagers put on various scenarios for the region. However, this overall deterioration triggered a various number of civil and community actions of which the following:
 
·        Actions by the “Civil Movement” in protest to the extension of themandate of the current Parliament which brought together a number of youth, women, and rights organisations grouped under the umbrella of the “Civil Movement for Accountability”, which held a sit-in in Riad Solh Square and several protest actions against Members of Parliament.
·        Community and civil local movements mobilised tens of women and men civil activists from Saida and surrounding areas who participated in several punctual actions seeking to reinforce civil peace in Abra area. Similarly, citizens and groups of Tripoli organized a popular campaign in support of traditional trading markets (old Sooks) of Tripoli and to boost economic activity in various part of the city.
·        The economic institutions issued a political outcry against the rapidly deteriorating economic, social, and political conditions in the country.
 
Within this context, key concerns related to citizens’ rights and entitlement remain unattended to especially given the absence of an operational government and the paralysis of the Parliament and of other public institutions in general. One of the most prominent concerns is undoubtedly the upholding of women’s basic rights protection from violence, the right to give citizenship, equality in social security, etc…) in addition to, electoral reform (rules, reforms, and especially the lowering of voting age, voting for non-residents, women’s quota..), civil personal status laws, social rights and entitlements (labor law, social security, universal healthcare coverage, social security for the elderly..), the issue of the kidnapped and the disappeared, rent law and building safety, public safety (traffic law, sustainable public transportation..), public properties in all its forms and environmental concerns (green spaces, sustainable development..), and last but not least the positions and salary scale for women and men employees.
 
Needless to say that the current civil actions and outcries will have limited impact, aside of implementing some local initiatives, issuing public statements, and refocusing on areas of social problems. In the end there is no alternative to the need for the development of a new political perspective which will emerge from a broad political and popular dialogue resulting in the introduction of the a new social and political contract that sets political and strategic priorities and that will constitutes a launching pad for a new civil State where rights of women and men citizens, equality between citizens and social justice are all upheld.