Qabbani Rejects Miqati’s Proposal on Elections of Higher Islamic Council

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Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani has reportedly rejected Prime Minister Najib Miqati’s proposal on the elections at the Higher Islamic Council, said the daily An Nahar on Saturday.

It stated that the premier had held talks over the matter with the mufti on Thursday, with the cleric requesting 24 hours to respond to his suggestion.

“The mufti was not very receptive of the proposal,” added the daily.

Miqati told An Nahar that he suggested that the Higher Islamic Council convene at Qabbani’s request in order to reach an agreement over having the mufti perform the necessary measures to prepare for the elections and set a date for them.

Qabbani would also assume the full authority of the council until the elections are staged, he added.

“The tenure of the current council ends with the announcement of the results of the elections. This would help avert vacuum in the council,” explained the premier.

The mufti’s reservations over the proposal stemmed from his demand that an exact date marking the end of the current council’s tenure be designated, reported An Nahar.

He rejected having the fate of the council be linked to the election of a new one, it stated.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani canceled on Thursday his decision to call for the election of members of the Higher Islamic Council on December 30.

Qabbani’s new move came to allow Dar al-Fatwa, which is Lebanon’s top Sunni religious authority, to issue a list of eligible voters for the 32-member Council.

Last week, the Shura Council suspended the polls after 21 Higher Islamic Council members, who are close to former Premier Saad Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal Movement, filed a challenge against Qabbani’s call.

They described the elections for the Council that elects the mufti and organizes the affairs of Dar al-Fatwa as illegal over Qabbani’s failure to consult them before making his call.

Qabbani’s ties with al-Mustaqbal deteriorated last year when he met with a delegation from Hizbullah the same day the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicted four party members in former PM Rafik Hariri’s February 2005 assassination.

Relations between the two sides were also shaken when the mufti met with Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdul Karim Ali, whom al-Mustaqbal and the March 14 opposition alliance have on several occasions said should be expelled.

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