Hariri greets lawmakers at Place de l'Etoile restaurant in Beirut after attending a failed Parliament session to elect a president Wednesday, March 2, 2016. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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The Future Movement and its March 14 allies and independent MPs piled up pressure on the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition Wednesday, staging a show of force with a high lawmaker turnout in Parliament, inching closer to a quorum to elect a president.However, the 72 lawmakers who showed up in Parliament, including former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and MP Walid Jumblatt, were not enough to convene the session to elect a president, falling short of the two-thirds majority (86 of the 128 MPs) required for a quorum. Hariri, attending an electoral session for the first time, stole the limelight with his presence in Parliament, using the occasion to reaffirm his commitment to supporting MP Sleiman Frangieh's candidacy against MP Michel Aoun, who is backed for the presidency by Hezbollah and some of its March 8 allies as well as the Lebanese Forces.Wednesday witnessed the highest lawmaker turnout since the second presidential election session on April 30, 2014, when 76 MPs attended.Asked about the possibility of dropping his initiative to back Frangieh's bid for presidency, Hariri said: "I am holding on to Sleiman Frangieh more than before". He called on the MPs who were absent Wednesday to attend the next session in order to put an end to the 21-month long presidential vacuum.
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