The second round of Lebanon’s presidential election was postponed until May 7 after March 8 coalition MPs boycotted Wednesday’s parliamentary session, in which it was scheduled to elect a new head of state.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri adjourned the session around 12:30 pm after it failed to reach its two-thirds quorum, with only 75 of the 128-member body in attendance, Al-Akhbar reported.
Lebanon’s bitterly divided parliament, which is tasked with choosing a president under Lebanon’s constitution, has not been able to agree on a consensus candidate to replace President Michel Sleiman, whose five-year term ends on May 25.
Berri had met earlier in the day with Walid Jumblatt, leader of the so-called Progressive Socialist Party, which routinely switches loyalties between the March 8 and March 14 rival political factions, to discuss his role in the election.
In a first round of voting last week, two-thirds of parliament (86 votes) were needed to elect a president.
Blank ballots submitted by March 8 Parliamentarians took the lead with 52 votes, the March 14 candidate and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea garnered 48 votes, and Jumblatt’s pick MP Henri Helou received 16 votes.
Candidates need just 65 votes in the second round of voting to win.
The March 8 coalition has yet to announce a candidate.
Circumstances unsuitable for election: Hezbollah
After parliament failed again to vote for a new president Hezbollah’s deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said Wednesday conditions are still not conducive for holding the presidential election,.
“It was clear that the first session was a farce, indicating that the circumstances are not suitable for electing a president," Qassem said. "This means that there would be no use of a second, third or fourth session if the situation remains as it is."
According to the Daily Star, Qassem said that his group boycotted the session to ensure that "no plots" are carried out and "we are surprised by things that may not be in harmony with the mechanism to elect a new president.”
The Hezbollah official also said that the best way to elect a new president would be “by consensus.”
“The nature of the country and its sectarian system do not allow one group to choose a president ... so the best way to elect a president is to reach an agreement,” he said.
“Agreements are usually reached outside the session or prior to the session to reach mutual conditions,” Qassem said.
“The president should enjoy a popular base ... he should not challenge others but work towards finding common ground and solutions.”
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