BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri described in comments published Friday the first round of the presidential election as a “rehearsal” and said next week’s session will be aimed at electing a new head of state.
Meanwhile, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri denied that his country intervenes in local Lebanese affairs, particularly over the presidential election.
“The real session next week will not be a session [for identifying] candidates; it will be the session of the president,” Berri told As-Safir daily.
“The first session was a rehearsal ... and the results were already known. But we now move to the stage of the election of a president,” he said.
The speaker also said that all those who wish to run for the presidential election should announce their candidacy.
“I am eager for more announced candidates to push the presidential election forward,” Berri said.
Berri denied that he discussed the election with any foreign ambassador or delegation, and said he would keep calling on Parliament to convene until it elects a leader.
Separately, Asiri denied in comments to As-Safir that his country is coordinating with any Lebanese parties over the election.
“The Saudi kingdom does not interfere with the Future Movement or any other party in Lebanese affairs,” he said.
He also denied media reports that Riyadh is pushing a certain candidate for the presidential post.
Lebanon’s Parliament failed in the first round of the election Wednesday to choose a new head of state to replace President Michel Sleiman, whose term ends on May 25.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the first to publicly announce his candidacy, gained 48 out of 128 votes against 52 blank ballots cast by most of the March 8 coalition’s MPs while 16 votes went to MP Henri Helou, who was nominated by Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, and one vote for Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel.
Another session for the presidential election is scheduled next week.