Berri urges Hezbollah to elect Franjieh as Lebanon President


berri defSpeaker Nabih Berri has reportedly  urged Hezbollah to settle for the election of Marada leader MP Suleiman Franjieh  since  their candidate  MP Michel Aoun  has no chance   to being elected , al-Akhbar daily reported on Saturday.

“Berri held contacts with Hezbollah  few days ago and has explained his point  of view on the need to expedite the election of Franjieh before the Saudi-Iranian dialogue kicks off in order to help a candidate of the March 8 camp to win the post” sources close to the Speaker told the daily  on condition of anonymity.

“Berri has urged Hezbollah not to waste this opportunity  since it is impossible for the Change and Reform bloc chief Aoun to win the seat,” the sources added.

But the sources  at the same time confirmed that Hezbollah is adamant to continue supporting Aoun as their sole candidate.

Both  al-Akhbar  and Berri are closely associated with Hezbollah.

Franjieh was nominated by former Lebanese PM and Future  movement chief Saad Hariri late last year.

Both Aoun and Franjieh are members of the Hezbollah led March 8 alliance , but Harairi reportedly decided to nominate Franjieh to end the political vacuum in Lebanon.

In addition to Aoun and Franjieh, MP Henri Helou is a nominee of the Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt.

The Lebanese parliament failed again today on March 2 and for the 36th time in a row to elect a president to replace Michel Suleiman whose term ended on May 25 , 2014.

As in the past sessions the parliament was unable to reach a quorum because the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group and its ally  Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc MPs boycotted the session, because they could not guarantee Aoun’s election as a president

Speaker  Berri  postponed the election to March 23, 2016.

 Aoun gave up

Aoun decided to give up on the presidency  earlier this week after failing to muster the required votes and said Monday that the parliament whose term is extended lacks the legitimacy to elect a “legitimate president.”

Aoun wants to change the electoral law to increase the size of his parliamentary bloc by benefiting from a proposed proportional representation law.

“Today the problem is in the electoral law, which has created imbalance, unfairness and lack of participation in running the country … The electoral law is based on an improper sectarian distribution,” Aoun lamented.

“Christians have lived with all sects in 22 districts, which made them minorities in these districts … There is no fairness in the composition of electoral districts and we are calling for a law based on proportional representation,” he added.

Accusing rival parties of rejecting proportional representation “because it would rid us of their privileges,” Aoun stressed that “there is no legitimacy for an authority that does not draw its legitimacy from the people.”

Aoun’s remarks were branded as “sour grapes” by analysts . One analyst said ” Imagine if Hezbollah decides to go to the parliament today and arranges to get him elected , will Aoun say the parliament is illegitimate and I won’t accept its vote to be  the president ?”

Iran behind the vacuum ?

Iran has been blamed by the rival March 14 camp of obstructing the presidential vote .

During an interview with CNN on March 3  Hariri was quoted as saying :
“Today we do not have a president because part of the parliament, which is Hezbollah, is not going down to the parliament. We have a problem with the quorum. Iran had elections a few days ago, so why can’t we have elections, like normal people? Why can’t we go to the parliament? Why are they stopping Hezbollah from letting members of Parliament elect a president?”