BEIRUT: The Lebanese lost their chance of electing a Lebanon-made president, Speaker Nabih Berri has said, noting that the country could have been at the forefront of defending the rights of persecuted peoples in the Middle East.
“It was unfortunate that the Lebanese wasted the opportunity to elect a president via a purely Lebanese decision while influential countries were busy with other things,” Berri was quoted by his visitors as saying, according to Al-Akhbar.
"If it wasn't for narrow personal interests and verbal altercations, Lebanon would have been, in this critical time, a beacon of the East and able to defend the rights of Palestinians and everyone who is being persecuted, primarily the Christians who were forced to migrate,” he said.
Lebanese politicians have been unable to agree on a consensus candidate and elect a new president to replace former President Michel Sleiman whose term expired May 25. Berri along with MP Walid Jumblatt have launched contacts to end the political deadlock over the election.
With no end in sight to the presidential stalemate, some lawmakers have begun promoting the idea of postponing the parliamentary election scheduled for November, citing security concerns and the absence of a president.
The local daily also quoted Berri as reiterating his opposition to extending Parliament's mandate saying he was not convinced of the reasons put forward to do so.
The speaker has said that extending Parliament’s mandate would be futile given that paralysis in the legislative branch in light of a boycott by Christian MPs and some March 14 lawmakers of legislative sessions. The boycotting MPs argue that Parliament should only convene over urgent matters while the presidential seat is void.