The Lebanese parliament failed again today and for the 33rd time in a row to elect a president to replace Michel Suleiman whose term ended on May 25 last year.
As in the past sessions the parliament was unable to reach a quorum because the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group and its ally MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc MPs boycotted the session.
Speaker Nabih Berri a key ally of Hezbollah postponed the election to to January 16, 2016 .
Iran is being blamed for the presidential vacuum by Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea who was the first to announce his presidential candidacy.
Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh emerged recently as a potential presidential candidate after visiting former PM Saad Hariri in Paris . But Aoun reportedly rejected his candidacy and Hezbollah went along with Aoun and declared that the FPM leader is its sole candidate . This is despite the fact that Franjieh is a key member of the Hezbollah -led March 8 alliance and the closest to Syrian president Bashar al Assad.
Franjieh held a meeting last Sunday in Syria with the embattled Syrian president reportedly to seek Assad’s blessing for his possible nomination.
Following the failure of today’s session to elect a president former PM and Future Movement parliamentary bloc leader MP Fouad Siniora warned: “The ongoing vacuum will lead to more dangers against Lebanon.”
“The ongoing vacuum will compound the internal problems in the country on various levels,” he added.
“Constitutional institutions should be revitalized in Lebanon, starting with the election of a president,” he stressed.
Asked by reporters on the fate of the March 14 alliance given the dispute between the Future Movement and Lebanese Forces, Siniora responded: “All members of the alliance are still committed to it. We may have differences, but the vision is the same.”
“We respect differences among the various members of the camp. We should achieve harmony on other issues and principles,” he stressed.
LF MP Georges Adwan meanwhile played down the differences between the LF and Future Movement, noting: “Differences between us had emerged in the past, such as in the formation of the cabinet, which we refused to be a part of, but they did.”
“This issue did not affect our ties with theFuture Movement,” he stressed.
Moreover, he urged the need for the adoption of a national settlement “that goes beyond the presidency.”
“Is the other camp prepared to accept such an initiative?” he asked.
Health Minister Wael Abou Faour said after meeting speaker Nabih Berri on Wednesday :
“Suggesting the nomination of Franjeih for the presidency is the best chance available. He is one of the four strong candidates.”
But Adwan responded by saying : “We do not judge candidates, but their presidential platforms.”
He added: “Do you think a foreign country knows Lebanon’s interests better than the Lebanese themselves?”
“If we do not accept such a proposal, then we would simply be rehashing the current status quo, but with a puppet president and weak government,” he warned.
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