US envoy urges Lebanese to seriously consider Berri’s proposal to end presidential deadlock

U.S. Charge d'Affaires Richard Jones with Speaker Nabih Berri -file photo
U.S. Charge d’Affaires Richard Jones with Speaker Nabih Berri -file photo

U.S. Charge d’Affaires Richard Jones urged on Tuesday the Lebanese politicians to exert all possible efforts to end the vacuum in the presidency.

He described Speaker Nabih Berri’s proposal to end the deadlock as “interesting ” after holding talks with former Lebanese PM and Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri.

He urged all concerned sides to take it into consideration, noting that it could be a way to end the impasse in the country.

The ambassador warned of the impact the vacuum is having on state institutions, saying that the Lebanese people should find a solution to electing a head of state.

Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad outlined last Wednesday following the dialogue session the options as outlined in Berri’s proposal:

The first option would be to hold elections on the basis of a new electoral law, after agreement is reached in the parliamentary committee tasked with that role.

MP Saad Hariri with US Charge D'Affaires Richard Jones( file photo
Former Lebanese PM and Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri with US Charge D’Affaires Richard Jones( file photo

The second option would be to hold elections according to the 1960 law. In both cases, parliament would immediately hold a session afterward to vote in a new president.

The third option in Berri’s proposal is “going to a new Doha,” whereby all the political forces would attend a national conference to hammer out a package deal on the presidency, an electoral law, a new government, and future dialogue, according to Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad.

Some observers regard the idea of a “new Doha” as a step toward a more profound change in the Lebanese system—what some have called a “foundational conference” to change the constitution. Nothing in Berri’s proposal indicates this, but there is a widespread belief among Hezbollah’s adversaries that the party is holding the presidential election hostage to impose changes in the political system that it desires.

Other observers believe that a “new Doha” may be the right move if the “session is well defined, and its agenda specified beforehand. Certainly, going through such a process would better illustrate the true intentions on the speaker’s and Hezbollah’s side. The March 14 parties can test the waters without necessarily risking much at first. Knowing what Hezbollah seeks could be an essential step in ending the presidential vacuum.

But today it seems impossible to hold another Doha , particularly with Iran and Saudi Arabia so hostile to one another and specially since is there no agreement over Lebanon.