BEIRUT — Outgoing Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri met Saturday with Free Patriotic Movement MP Elias Bou Saab at the former’s Ain al-Tineh residence, a few days before the first session of Lebanon’s newly elected Parliament, the state-run National News Agency reported. At the session, the MPs, who were voted in on May 15, are expected to elect a Parliament speaker and deputy speaker.
Here’s what we know:
• The deputy speaker is traditionally Greek Orthodox, and on Friday evening FPM leader Gebran Bassil announced Bou Saab's candidacy for the position.
• During their meeting, which “lasted nearly an hour,” Berri and Bou Saab discussed “the latest political developments and the results of the elections,” but no statement was issued following the exchange.
• Berri, who has held the post of Parliament speaker continuously since 1992, has called the Parliament to its first meeting on Tuesday in his capacity as its oldest member. While he comfortably retained the post during his previous terms in office, his re-election as speaker is more problematic this time. Indeed, the two major Christian blocs, the FPM and the Lebanese Forces, as well as the new independent MPs, have assured that they will not vote for him. However, Berri finally reached a Lebanese-style compromise: he will be able to count on the votes of three Armenian MPs from the Tashnag party and several FPM MPs, which should give him “Christian legitimacy.”
• Over the past week, much has been written about the negotiations conducted by the outgoing speaker to secure this legitimacy and, in particular, the fact that Bou Saab would be elected deputy speaker in exchange for the FPM’s support.