Lebanon fails to elect president, parliament adjourned
Lebanon's parliament was later adjourned Wednesday due to a lack of quorum after many March 8 members walked out of the session (Lebanese Parliament/AFP)
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Lebaneses Forces leader Samir Geagea won 48 votes, with 52 blank ballots cast, 16 for Henry Helou from Walid Jumblatt's bloc, one vote for Amine Gemayel, and 7 void.
The parliament session was later adjourned for lack of quorum after many March 8 coalition lawmakers walked out of the session, and a new session was set for April 30.
Speaker Nabih Berri convened the first round of election at 12:05 p.m. after 124 lawmakers arrived to take part in the session. Ministers from Prime Minister Tammam Salam's Cabinet also attended the session, as well as several foreign ambassadors.
LF MP Strida Geagea criticized the blank ballots, saying she had hoped that a name of a strong candidate would have been put forward instead.
“It would have been better if a clear candidate was running against us ... they should have voted for a strong candidate,” Geagea told reporters following the session.
“A strong candidate would have been someone like [former] General Michel Aoun,” she added.
Geagea also commented on some of the ballots that included the names of figures killed during the war whose relatives accuse the LF leader of their murder, including Dany Chamoun and Rashid Karami.
“This is irresponsible behavior and political bankruptcy ... we know how they died and who was responsible for that,” said Geagea, who maintains her husband's innocence.
She said they would continue "the battle until the end,” with the support of the March 14 coalition, and thanked former Prime Minister Saad Hariri for his “loyalty.”
The Future Movement-led March 14 coalition announced its unanimous support for Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea after an extraordinary meeting Tuesday evening.
Even the Kataeb Party, which was widely expected to nominate its leader, former President Amin Gemayel, for the presidency, has committed to voting for Geagea.
In the first round of voting, Geagea was expected to garner around 50 votes, well below the 86 votes that are required to win the presidency.
Centrist lawmakers, including former Prime Minister Najib Mikati and MPs from Jumblatt’s parliamentary bloc, said they would either cast blank ballots or vote for Helou, who has been nominated by Jumblatt’s bloc.