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Lebanon News

Hariri, Bassil meet in Paris ahead of election session

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks to journalists in the Hague, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks Tuesday with Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil, dispatched by MP Michel Aoun, over the presidential election - just a day before parliament is set to convene for the second round of voting.

Several local media outlets reported Hariri and Bassil met in Paris over lunch.

Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement has been discussing with the Future Movement their potential support for the former general’s presidency bid. However, a senior Future source told The Daily Star Monday that Aoun’s hopes were misplaced.

Speaker Nabih Berri along with Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, the speaker’s aid, also met with Abu Faour in Ain el-Tineh and discussed current developments and the election.

Abu Faour, dispatched by MP Walid Jumblatt, returned to Beirut after a two-day trip to Saudi Arabia, the second in 10 days, where he discussed the presidential election with Saudi officials.

MPs are scheduled to meet in Parliament for the second round of voting after no candidate was able to secure the two-thirds vote needed to win last week.

However, the session is expected to fail to obtain the needed quorum as several March 8 blocs are likely to scuttle the vote to push their rivals in the March 14 coalition to agree on a consensus candidate.

FPM MP Ibrahim Kanaan said the bloc would not attend what he described as a "folklore" session.

“We do not believe in a presidential vacuum ... but in the National Covenant and a genuine, serious national choice rather than folklore session,” Kanaan said after the Change and Reform bloc’s weekly meeting.

“We will deal with the presidential election stemming from such a belief."

Last week, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the March 14-backed candidate, won 48 votes against 52 blank ballots cast by lawmakers from MP Michel Aoun’s bloc and March 8 parties. Some 16 lawmakers voted for MP Henry Helou from Jumblatt’s bloc.

Separately, Abu Faour slammed Deputy Parliament Speaker Farid Makari for comments he had made about Jumblatt, defending the PSP leader by saying he played a role in preserving civil peace in the country.

"The world witnessed him contributing to preserving civil peace, supporting consensus and protecting stability,” Abu Faour said. "Wise people appreciate Jumblatt's role and that is enough for us."

Earlier Tuesday, Makari criticized Jumblatt’s role as a kingmaker in Lebanese politics, saying: “The only good thing that could come out of an agreement between Future Movement and Free Patriotic Movement is eliminating the role Jumblatt plays as the kingmaker between the two coalitions in Parliament.”

 

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Summary

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks Tuesday with Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil, dispatched by MP Michel Aoun, over the presidential election -- just a day before parliament is set to convene for the second round of voting.

However, the session is expected to fail to obtain the needed quorum as several March 8 blocs are likely to scuttle the vote to push their rivals in the March 14 coalition to agree on a consensus candidate.

Last week, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the March 14-backed candidate, won 48 votes against 52 blank ballots cast by lawmakers from MP Michel Aoun's bloc and March 8 parties. Some 16 lawmakers voted for MP Henry Helou from Jumblatt's bloc.


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