Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri on Monday delayed a parliamentary session to elect a new president until Nov. 12 to give rival factions time to agree on a compromise candidate, a statement said.
The 128-member parliament, dominated by anti-Syrian lawmakers, was scheduled to meet Tuesday to try again to choose a successor to pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, who steps down Nov. 24. "In order to allow more consultations (aimed at) reaching a consensus on the election of a president who will constitute a symbol of the country's unity and immunity, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has decided to postpone the session, scheduled for tomorrow, until Monday Nov. 12," said the statement issued by the parliament's secretariat general.
According to the AP, the delay of Tuesday's session, which was widely expected, came two days after the foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain met in Beirut with Lebanese government and opposition leaders in a bid to reconcile their conflicting views on the election of a new president. An-Nahar newspaper said the postponement of Tuesday's session was the first outcome of the three ministers' talks.
Legislator Saad Hariri, leader of the parliamentary majority, has held several rounds of talks with Berri, who aligned with the opposition, in an effort to agree on a president acceptable to the anti-Syrian coalition and the opposition. Berri has been quoted by An-Nahar and As-Safir dailies as saying that a consensus on a president is "forthcoming."