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Ignoring doubters, Berri gets parliamentary election ball rolling

File - Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri arrives at the National Dialogue session held at Baabda Palace, Lebanon, on Monday, June 25, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: MPs from Speaker Nabih Berri’s bloc began preparations Friday to submit their candidacies for planned parliamentary elections based on the current election law, putting the wheels in motion for nationwide polls that few believe will happen on time.

“We began today preparing the papers needed to submit our candidacies,” MP Qassem Hashem, part of Berri’s Development and Liberation bloc, told The Daily Star.

The paperwork is expected to take between three and four days to complete, the lawmaker added.

“We will have submitted our candidacies by next week,” he said.

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk issued a notice Thursday detailing the documents required for those intending to submit their candidacies for the hotly debated parliamentary elections, which are currently scheduled for Nov. 16. Nominations will be accepted until Sept. 16 at 11:59 p.m..

That same day, Berri called on all 13 members of his bloc to immediately announce their candidacies, political sources said, even though the fate of the poll is uncertain amid calls to extend Parliament’s mandate a second time due to the lack of a president.

The move signaled Berri’s determination to maintain his opposition to any extension of Parliament’s current term. The speaker, who also heads the Amal Movement, has repeatedly made his position on the issue clear.

Parliament extended its term for 17 months in May 2013, citing the deteriorating security situation and the failure of political factions to agree on a new election law that provided fair representation.

Many politicians have hinted that another extension of the legislature’s term is likely given that the security situation is still highly unstable.

On top of this, the Future Movement opposes holding parliamentary elections before the election of a president. There has been a presidential vacuum in Lebanon since May 25, the date when former President Michel Sleiman’s term expired.

Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said that the party was considering the revival of an initiative put forward by LF leader Samir Geagea in June.

Geagea proposed that he and his rival, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, agree on two presidential candidates other than themselves and elect one of them in Parliament.

“It includes all the possible means to elect a president,” Zahra said in a statement. Zahra accused Aoun of seeking to eliminate every other candidate by insisting on becoming Lebanon’s next president.

Separately, Berri will deliver a speech Sunday evening to mark the 36th anniversary of the disappearance of influential Imam Musa Sadr, the founder of the Amal Movement.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 30, 2014, on page 2.

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Summary

MPs from Speaker Nabih Berri's bloc began preparations Friday to submit their candidacies for planned parliamentary elections based on the current election law, putting the wheels in motion for nationwide polls that few believe will happen on time.

On top of this, the Future Movement opposes holding parliamentary elections before the election of a president.

Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said that the party was considering the revival of an initiative put forward by LF leader Samir Geagea in June.

Geagea proposed that he and his rival, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun, agree on two presidential candidates other than themselves and elect one of them in Parliament.

Zahra accused Aoun of seeking to eliminate every other candidate by insisting on becoming Lebanon's next president.


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