BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Berri postpones eighth election session

MPs gather at the Parliament as they attend the presidential election session in Beirut, Wednesday, July 2, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lawmakers failed for the eighth time Wednesday to appear in Parliament in numbers strong enough to have a quorum to elect a new president for Lebanon, prompting Speaker Nabih Berri to postpone the session by two weeks.

A press statement read out by Berri’s spokesman Mohammad Ballout said the Speaker postponed the legislative session till 12 p.m. July 23, “over lack of quorum.”

At 12:30 p.m., thirty minutes after the session was scheduled to begin, there were only 64 MPs inside Parliament.

For the first time both Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam did not show up to Parliament.

The same old scene prevailed in and around Parliament headquarters in Downtown Beirut, only this time the podium placed at the bottom of Parliament’s stairs had been removed.

Also missing were the outside broadcast vehicles.

There are growing fears of a prolonged vacuum in the country’s top Christian post, political sources told The Daily Star Tuesday.

Further complicating efforts to break the presidential deadlock, now in its second month, was Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun’s proposal for electing a president by the people, a proposal that swiftly drew fire from the March 14 coalition and threw the political landscape into further disarray.

“We are in the eighth session and its fate will be similar to the previous ones: no result,” Berri was quoted as saying by visitors.

“The date of parliamentary elections is approaching and the situation looks totally blocked,” Berri added, in reference to parliamentary polls scheduled for November.

The speaker said he was considering holding separate deliberations with heads of blocs, and with independent MPs, in order to sort out how to deal with presidential and parliamentary elections.

Lawmakers from Aoun’s bloc, Hezbollah and its March 8 allies have thwarted a quorum by boycotting legislative sessions in a bid to pressure their March 14 rivals to reach a deal on a consensus candidate for the presidency.

 

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