The president’s chair empty at Baabda Palace.
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With inter-Lebanese divisions sharpened by the outbreak of a diplomatic rift with Saudi Arabia, this week's Parliament session to elect a president is doomed to fail like the previous 35 attempts over a lack of quorum, further prolonging the 21-month-long presidential vacuum.Although the March 2 Parliament session is doomed to fail, Speaker Nabih Berri said he is still optimistic eventually about the election of a president.Instead of focusing on bridging the wide gap between the March 14 and March 8 parties over the presidential election, Hariri's flurry of activity in the past week has been geared toward containing the economic and political damage resulting from the Saudi decision to freeze a major military aid package for Lebanon.Hariri, a close ally of Riyadh, has launched a petition to show gratitude for Saudi Arabia, calling on all Lebanese to sign it, and underline Lebanon's commitment to Arab unanimity.MP Walid Jumblatt said the government's statement, which underlined Lebanon's commitment to Arab unanimity and causes, should be sufficient to make Saudi Arabia revoke its measures against Lebanon.Political sources said the crisis with Saudi Arabia has put the presidential initiatives launched by Hariri and Geagea to nominate rival candidates on hold for now.
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