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Strida Geagea: Rivals obstructing Christian president vote

Lawmakers attend Parliament session in Downtown, Beirut, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces MP Strida Geagea held rival Christian parliamentarians responsible for obstructing election of the sole Arab Christian president, as Parliament failed for the ninth time in a row to fill the country’s top post.

As in previous sessions, Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned the assembly to Aug.12 citing lack of quorum.

He also called for convening Parliament on July 26 to “show solidarity with Gaza against Israeli terrorism and with Christians in Mosul and its surrounding against Takfiri terrorism.”

As predicted prior to the session, the vote could not be held as lawmakers from the March 8 coalition boycotted the vote over a lack of a consensus candidate to succeed former President Michel Sleiman whose six-year-tenure ended on May 25.

The majority of lawmakers from the March 14 coalition had arrived in Parliament. However, only 57 lawmakers were present Wednesday, compared with 65 and 75 in previous sessions.

Geagea blasted the opposing camp, singling out former general Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement for impeding the vote and “jeopardizing” the post of the only Christian president in the Arab world at a time Christians are being persecuted in Iraq and Syria.

“I hold once again the opposite Christian party in Lebanon fully responsible for the dangers stemming from the obstruction of the presidential election, in such a sensitive phase through which the region is passing,” Geagea said after the session’s postponement.

“Instead of electing a president to preserve the main and last bastion of real coexistence in the Middle East, the other camp, which pretends to be defending Christian rights, is actually sabotaging the election because it has no chance of the presidency,” Geagea added.

Meanwhile, Future Bloc MP Ahmad Fatfat said his party will not attend any legislative session that would have reduction of public spending on its agenda, noting that the Minister of Finance has already issued a memorandum for paying the salaries of public employees and dismissing need to hold a meeting in that regard.

Lawmakers have now botched nine attempts since April 23 to elect a successor to former President Michel Sleiman, each failing due to a lack of two-thirds quorum in the legislature.

 

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Summary

Lebanese Forces MP Strida Geagea held rival Christian parliamentarians responsible for obstructing election of the sole Arab Christian president, as Parliament failed for the ninth time in a row to fill the country's top post.

As predicted prior to the session, the vote could not be held as lawmakers from the March 8 coalition boycotted the vote over a lack of a consensus candidate to succeed former President Michel Sleiman whose six-year-tenure ended on May 25 .

However, only 57 lawmakers were present Wednesday, compared with 65 and 75 in previous sessions.


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