The Lebanese parliament failed for the seventh time in a row to hold a session to elect the country’s new president to replace Michel Suleiman whose terms ended on May 25.
As in the previous sessions , the vote could not be held as lawmakers allied with the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group boycotted the voting for lack of agreement on a consensus president.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned the session to elect a new president to July 2 .
There are serious concerns that a prolonged vacuum at the Baabda presidential place would affect Lebanon’s power-sharing system under which the president should be a Christian Maronite, the speaker a Shiite and the PM a Sunni.
According to Bkirki sources the top 4 Maronite leaders( FPM leader Michel Aoun, Marada leader Suleiman Franjieh, Phalange party leader Amin Gemayel and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea ) agreed last March to facilitate the election of the president .
After Geagea secured 48 votes last April 23, the Hezbollah led March 8 alliance including Aoun and Franjieh walked out from the parliament to make sure there was no quorum to elect a president. They continued their boycott of the parliament during the 5 other sessions that followed .
Both Aoun and Franjieh boycotted todays’ session too.
Aoun has not announced his candidacy but he aspires to become a consensual nominee
“I will announce my nomination when the political situation in parliament becomes clear and when (the current candidates) are dismissed,” Aoun said on Tuesday.
“It is totally rejected to choose the weakest Christian as president and I will not tolerate this,” he said in reference Geagea without naming him.
“I’m the strongest and I’m the one who represents (the Christians). My popularity is on the rise,” he added.
Despite his claims, Aoun’s rivals in the March 14 camp have refused to withdraw their support for Geagea, who was the first to announce his candidacy.
Several March 14 MPs snapped back at Aoun in remarks to reporters in parliament.
LF MP Elie Kairouz said the country’s Christians need a man holds onto his stances, “not a man of contradiction in positions and choices.”
March 14 MP Marwan Hamadeh said that “neither the parliamentary elections nor any other thing will take place before the presidential elections and whoever says the opposite of this is deluded.”
Future bloc MP Mohammad Qabbani also said that “electing a president must be done before anything else,” adding that “the issue of the parliamentary elections is neither serious nor possible.”
Yesterday Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali voiced his support for Aoun for presidency.
“As long as the coalition that is close to our political line supports Aoun, then we too consider Aoun to be a friend of Syria’s, who believed in Syria’s victory over the crisis.”
He ruled out the possibility of Geagea becoming the president .
“We will certainly not even consider the possibility of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s arrival to the presidency, I do not think that this is [even] possible. Geagea never was and never will be our presidential candidate,” he added.
Commenting on Wednesday’s development Geagea stressed that the sessions are being intentionally disrupted.
“Presidential vacuum is not like any other vacuum even though some are acting as if [nothing is wrong],” Geagea said in a press conference on Wednesday.
The LF leader addressed the parties boycotting the sessions, specifically the Change and Reform and Hezbollah blocs, saying: “What are you waiting for?”
“One of the solutions is the agreement on two or three candidates and going to parliament.”
He continued: “None of the initiatives is being met with responsiveness and the worst part is that there is no solution, only disruption.”
When asked about holding the parliamentary elections before electing a president, Geagea underscored that “nobody can escape the parliamentary elections but holding them before the presidential elections is dangerous and unprecedented.”
Commenting on Aoun’s position he said :” The problem with Aoun he is shooting down all possible solution and not providing any”
Jumblatt to mediate with Hariri
Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt flew to Paris Tuesday on a private plane accompanied by Health Minister Wael Abu Faour for talks with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri to push MP Henry Helou as a consensus candidate for the presidency.
“We want consensus because the country is divided,” PSP MP Alaeddine Tirro stressed Tuesday, pointing to the failure of the March 8 and March 14 coalitions to elect a president. “We hope Helou will win as a consensus president to end the presidential vacuum,” he said
This comes after Abu Faour, a senior PSP official, met recently Hariri in Morocco to prepare for talks between the 2 leaders.
But according to An Nahar the meeting that was supposed to take place on Tuesday was postponed till Friday.
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