BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam praised Wednesday the Cabinet's role in preserving security, which, he said, allowed Parliament to hold its first round of voting for the presidential election.
“The session is part of the political consensus that has prevailed in the country since the formation of the Cabinet amid a positive atmosphere, provide by the Cabinet, as promised,” Salam said in a statement.
“The security and stability guaranteed by the National Unity government with the help of the various political groups allowed for the democratic process to take place,” he added.
He also expressed hope that Parliament would elect "the best president for Lebanon" by the Constitutional deadline of May 25.
MPs failed to elect a president during the first round of voting after none of the candidates received the needed majority. Parliament is scheduled to reconvene on April 30 to hold another round of elections.
The candidates were Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, MP Henry Helou, from Walid Jumblatt’s bloc, and independent lawyer Nadine Moussa.
Geagea received 48 votes while Helou recieved 16 with 52 were blank ballots and 7 void.
MP Michel Aoun, whose bloc left the session as soon as the voting ended, said his lawmakers withdrew because "it was obvious there was a lack of agreement on a candidate."
“We withdrew from the session after the first round of voting pending a consensus on a single candidate,” he told reporters after the session.
Aoun, the March 8 coalition’s presumed candidate, said he would only run in the presidential race as a “consensus candidate.”
The former general also spoke about the voided ballots, which carried the names of political figures allegedly killed by Geagea, who has denied any role in the murders.
“People still have these memories; they were moved by Geagea's candidacy and they expressed their feelings,” he said.
Asked whether he would announce his candidacy before next week's session, Aoun said: "Until now, we are still waiting for consensus."
MP Walid Jumblatt said his bloc's decision to nominate Helou for the post would not change.
"We do not have any candidate other than Henry Helou," he said.