Lebanese parliament fails to elect president for third time in a row
Current President Michel Suleiman's term ends in a matter of weeks. (AFP/File)
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Parliament failed on Wednesday for the third week in a row to elect a new president over differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances and amid warnings of a possible vacuum at Baabda Palace, more than two weeks before the expiry of President Michel Suleiman's tenure.
Speaker Nabih Berri set May 15 as a new round of voting after the March 8 lawmakers again boycotted the elections.
March 8 MPs and mainly members of MP Michel Aoun's Change and Reform bloc stressed to reporters outside the parliament that the elections would be held only if they became “serious.”
Aoun has repeatedly said that he would not announce his candidacy if there was no consensus on him.
“There wouldn't have been any boycott if the presidential elections were serious,” MP Nabil Nicolas said.
Lawmaker Alain Aoun denied that March 8 was obstructing the elections. Instead, he said: “We are not participating in unproductive sessions.”
Aoun accused March 14 of hindering the election process by holding onto the candidacy of Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea “who has no chance to succeed.”
“How should we elect a president who is rejected by the majority of Christians?” he asked in reference to Geagea.
In the first round of the polls, the LF leader was only able to garner the votes of 48 MPs. Fifty-two lawmakers from the March 8 alliance gave blank votes and then pulled out of the session.
Last week, the March 8 MPs boycotted the session, again resulting in a lack of the needed two-thirds quorum of the 128-member parliament.
Al-Mustaqbal MP Ahmed Fatfat reiterated the call for March 8 to announce a candidate.
He snapped back at lawmaker Aoun, saying his camp would be held responsible for a vacuum at the presidential palace when Suleiman's term expires on May 25.
Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel also slammed the FPM chief for not being a consensual candidate. He accused him of weakening the Republic and the role of Christians.
Aoun “will take the country to the abyss” if he continues to hold onto his stances, Gemayel said.