Lebanon: Quorum ‘guaranteed’ for presidency vote on Oct. 31

Published October 28th, 2016 - 05:00 GMT
With Saad Hariri's endorsement of Michel Aoun for President, Lebanon's parliament will have a large enough quorum to hold a vote. (AFP/File)
With Saad Hariri's endorsement of Michel Aoun for President, Lebanon's parliament will have a large enough quorum to hold a vote. (AFP/File)

Speaker Nabih Berri reassured Wednesday that “quorum” will be “guaranteed” during the October 31 presidential vote session, reiterating that a second voting round would be held during the same session if no candidate manages to garner 86 votes in the first round.

“The quorum of the presidential vote session is known and guaranteed, and seeing as the minutes of meeting of the previous (April 2014) session were recited and ratified, we might witness a session with two rounds if no candidate manages to win in the first round, and there is no need for controversy and ambiguity,” Berri told Lebanese reporters in Geneva.

He also pledged anew that his bloc will attend the electoral session, noting once again that strenuous efforts will be needed after the election of the president, especially regarding the new electoral law.

The October 31 session is expected to be marred by a constitutional dispute over whether it should include two rounds of voting or only one.

The Free Patriotic Movement and its allies have argued that Monday's session will open with the second round of voting seeing as the first round was held during the April 2014 electoral session in which no candidate managed to garner 86 votes.

The FPM says the session requires a quorum of 86 MPs and that FPM founder MP Michel needs only 65 votes to be elected president but Berri has repeatedly said that he had closed the minutes of meeting of the 2014 session.

The speaker has argued that Aoun would need 86 votes to be elected president in the first round or else a second round of voting during the same session would be required. The second round would also need a quorum of 86 MPs but a president can be elected with only 65 votes.

An Nahar newspaper has quoted Berri as saying that “this point does not need any interpretation or discussion.”

“Should the FPM insist that the session must open with the second round of voting, Speaker Berri is willing to call for a parliamentary session dedicated to the interpretation of the Constitution that would precede the voting session,” al-Akhbar newspaper quoted sources close to Berri as saying.

Aoun was tipped to become president after al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri formally endorsed him on Thursday.

Berri has voiced concerns over the Aoun-Hariri agreements that preceded the endorsement while openly declaring that his bloc will “vote against Aoun” and that it might “join the ranks of the opposition.”

Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and Hizbullah, Aoun's Change and Reform bloc and some of their allies have been boycotting the parliament's electoral sessions, stripping them of the needed quorum.

Hariri had launched an initiative in late 2015 to nominate Hizbullah's ally and Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency but his proposal was met with reservations from the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.

The supporters of Aoun's presidential bid have argued that he is more eligible than Franjieh to become president due to the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.


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