Presidential elections adjourned to Sept. 28 after 44th attempt

BEIRUT: Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned the presidential election for the 44th time Wednesday after the number of lawmakers fell short of the required quorum to cast votes. Berri scheduled the next presidential vote for September 28.

41 MPs attended Wednesday’s electoral session, 45 MPs short of the 86 who must be present to meet the required quorum.

A host of March 8 lawmakers, including MPs from Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the Marada Movement boycotted the session.

Head of the Future Movement parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Siniora met with Lebanese Forces’ deputy Chief MP George Adwan after the session in order to discuss recent political developments in the country.

“The only way to resolve the political deadlock in Lebanon is to elect a president to avoid worsening the rift between rival political factions in the country,” Adwan said following the meeting with Siniora, while adding that the Future Movement is fully behind the approach.

The LF deputy chief urged Lebanon’s rival political factions to compromise in order to end the political paralysis of the country, since he considers that such concession would restore a more “proper productive rhetoric.”

The adjournment of the presidential election follows the suspension of National Dialogue Monday.
The failure of inter-Lebanese dialogue invites foreign meddling into domestic affairs and deals a blow to local efforts to reach a solution to the political impasse, Berri’s visitors quoted him as saying Wednesday.

During Monday’s National Dialogue session, FPM head Gebran Bassil raised the issue of the National Pact – the unwritten agreement that has shaped Lebanon’s multi-confessional power sharing system– to protest the last Cabinet meeting that was held in the absence of Christian Ministers from the FPM, Kataeb and Tashnaq party.

The issue sparked a heated debate between Bassil and Marada Movement Chief MP Sleiman Franjieh, a presidential candidate who was nominated by the Future Movement despite his alliance with Hezbollah. Franjieh has refused to withdraw from the presidential race in favor of his ex-ally FPM founder MP Michel Aoun, who was nominated for the presidency post by Hezbollah.

Bassil claimed that Christian ministers who attended the last Cabinet session represented only six percent of Lebanon’s Christian population, which provoked Franjieh whose party is represented by one minister in the Cabinet.

Franjieh fired back at Bassil by saying “Who are you? And who do you represent since you failed to raise the needed votes during the previous parliamentary elections?” a source inside the session quoted Franjieh as saying in reference to Bassil’s failure to gather the necessary votes to secure his election in the 2009 parliamentary elections.

Berri said Prime Minister Tammam Salam is entitled to decide whether to call the Cabinet for a meeting Thursday in the absence of FPM ministers.

Bassil and Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, also a member of the FPM, along with ministers from the Tashnaq party boycotted the last Cabinet session to protest the government’s failure to appoint new security chiefs.

Bassil has threatened to take to the streets in case the Cabinet convenes in the absence of FPM ministers but dismissed claims that his party would go as far as to withdraw its ministers from the Cabinet.