Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani expressed surprise on Tuesday over the fuss created over the elections of the Higher Islamic Council, saying that some are trying to turn it into a political council.
“They want to dominate the council to turn it from an Islamic council into a political one… I will not allow this to happen,” Qabbani said in comments published in As Safir newspaper.
He pointed out that the elections weren’t suspended over the decision taken by the Shura Council, however he said that he canceled the previous date set by him on December 30.
The Shura Council suspended the elections set by Qabbani after 21 Higher Islamic Council members, who are close to ex-Premier Saad Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal Movement, filed a challenge against the mufti’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.
On Monday, the mufti announced that the elections will be carried out during the last week of February.
Qabbani described the meetings held with former Prime Ministers Salim al-Hoss and Omar Karami as “positive.”
The mufti expressed regret after holding talks with al-Hoss on Monday over the division among the Islamic body, stressing that he will confront any campaign against the person of the mufti.
He stressed after talks with Karami on Sunday that the elections should be held within the legitimate timeframe, pointing out that the members of the Council will be elected after the list of names of eligible voters is issued.
The mufti stressed that his deputy has no right to call for any Council session or chair any meeting in his absence.
Prime Minister Najib Miqati, who met with Qabbani the day he reversed his call for the elections, proposed holding elections within a period of two or three months with members of the current Council remaining in office until polls are held to avoid the vacuum.