March 8-affiliated MP Mohamed Yahya has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and that concludes today's parliamentary consultations.
Mikati is prime minister-designate with 54 votes in his favor, significantly fewer than he achieved in parliamentary consultations in September last year, when he won 72 votes.
Sixteen MPs from the Free Patriotic Movement's Strong Lebanon bloc decided not vote for anyone in the prime minister-designate race, its head Gebran Bassil announced following the bloc's consultation with party founder President Michel Aoun.
Tashnag's bloc, which is made up of three MPs, has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
Amal's Development and Liberation bloc, which is made up of 15 MPs, has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati. This secures the designation in favor of Mikati.
Future Movement-affiliated MP Abdul Karim Mohammed Kabbara has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
If Amal votes for Mikati as expected, his designation is guaranteed. There are not enough outstanding votes for Salam to win unless Amal breaks expectations and does not vote Mikati
The 13 opposition group MPs have voted as follows for the next premier-designate: 10 in favor of Nawaf Salam and three refrained from naming any candidate.
MPs Ibrahim Mneimneh, Paula Yacoubian, Melhem Khalaf, Waddeh Sadek, Ramy Finge, Michel Douaihy, Mark Daou, Najat Aoun, Firas Hamdan and Yassin Yassin voted for Nawaf Salam, while Halimé El Kaakour, Cynthia Zarazir and Elias Jaradeh did not vote for anyone in the prime minister-designate race.
Announcing the group's votes, Firas Hamdan said, "It is unacceptable to continue with the same approaches and faces," adding that "one of the government's priorities is to stop the economic collapse and restructure the banking sector, to make [the investigation into] the Aug. 4 crime [port explosion] a priority, to adopt a foreign policy that serves Lebanon's supreme interest, and to commit to protecting the citizen, food security, hospitalization and medicine, and activating the applications of social justice for the most vulnerable group, and to work for the independence of the judiciary."
Independent MP Ihab Matar has added a new name to the prime-minister designate race, voting for Rawaa Hallab to be named to the post.
Future Movement-affiliated Bilal al-Hashimi has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
Independent MP Firas Salloum has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, while independent MP Charbel Massad has not voted for anyone in the prime minister-designate race.
Consultations continue this afternoon with opposition group and independent MPs, the Development and Liberation bloc, the Strong Lebanon bloc and the Tashnag bloc.
The morning session of the parliamentary consultations has ended. The afternoon session will begin at 2:30 p.m., when we'll be back with our live coverage.
As the voting now stands, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has 31 votes, Nawaf Salam has 14 votes and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri has 1 vote. Some 26 MPs have chosen not to put any name forward for the role.
MPs Neemat Frem and Jamil Abboud, who make up the Homeland Project bloc, have cast independent votes. Abboud voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati while Frem decided not to vote for anyone.
Jihad al-Samad (linked to March 8) has voted for former Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Hariri, the head of the Future Movement, announced his withdrawal from political life ahead of parliamentary elections on May 15. He also, in July last year, stepped down as premier-designate after nine months of failed efforts to form a cabinet.
Independent MP Michel Daher has also not named anyone in the prime minister-designate race.
Independent MPs Abdul Rahman Bizri and Oussama Saad have decided not to vote for anyone in the prime minister-designate race.
Bizri's name had been suggested by caretaker Premier Najib Mikati as a potential premier-designate candidate; however, on Wednesday, Bizri made clear he would not be a candidate for the post.
Commenting on his party's decision not to name a premier-designate, Lebanese Forces MP Georges Adwan explained, "We have not named anyone … Our group was recently trying to bring opposition forces together around the issue of the country's sovereignty, in order to have a single position on the appointment of the prime minister. Unfortunately, we failed on this point."
Adwan added that his party "will continue to try" to build a camp defending Lebanon's sovereignty in Parliament.
Regarding Nawaf Salam, Adwan reiterated the justification put forward by LF leader Samir Geagea for not naming him: "He did not contact us."
Photo: The 19 MPs of the Lebanese Forces group meeting with President Aoun in Baabda. (Credit: Twitter/LBpresidency)
MP Hassan Mrad (linked to March 8) and MP Jean Talouzian (Independent/Beirut I) have both voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
MP Fouad Makhzoumi (Independent/Beirut II) has also decided not to vote for anyone in the prime minister-designate race.
The March 8-affiliated MP Jamil al-Sayyed has chosen not to vote for anyone in the prime minister-designate race.
"What is happening will not help the country get out of its deterioration, unless presidential elections take place with a government separate from the Parliament," Sayyed said, adding that he believe "no official is playing a rescue game."
The Lebanese Forces' Strong Republic bloc, which is made up of 19 MPs, has refrained from voting for anyone in the prime minister-designate race.
Negotiations for the establishment of the cabinet should not begin until after the appointment of the prime minister-designate but, according to some observers, the grand bazaar has already begun. Thus, according to sources quoted by our political columnist Mounir Rabih, the Free Patriotic Movement has already claimed, once again, the ministries of foreign affairs and energy; however, the party, founded by President Michel Aoun, last Saturday denied such claims.
Meanwhile, even though the Amal Movement, led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, warned on Monday against all "conditions" on cabinet formatino set by the various political parties, it, alongside its ally Hezbollah, has insisted in recent years on keeping the Finance Ministry in its bosom.
The Progressive Socialist Party for its part reiterated during the consultations that it does not wish to take part in the future cabinet.
The North of Confrontation bloc, which is made up of MPs Michel Moawad and Adib Abdelmassih, has voted for Nawaf Salam.
Hezbollah's Loyalty to the Resistance bloc, which is made up of 15 MPs, has put its vote behind caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
"All opportunities must be seized and obstacles ironed out to form a cabinet," said Mohammad Raad on behalf of his bloc, calling for "realism" and putting "the national interest" before any other consideration.
Imad el-Hout (Jamaa Islamiyyah) has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
So far it is neck and neck at Baabda Palace, with 12 votes each for Najib Mikati and Nawaf Salam. Twenty-five MPs out of 128 have stated their preference thus far, with Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab choosing not to put any name forward.
Photo: The fountain outside the Presidential Palace in Baabda. (Credit: L'Orient-Le Jour)
The Projects Association bloc, which comprises MPs Adnan Traboulsi and Taha Naja, has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
The Progressive Socialist Party's Democratic Gathering bloc, which is made up of eight MPs, has voted for Nawaf Salam.
Speaking on the bloc's behalf, MP Taymour Joumblatt said: "We have named Ambassador Nawaf Salam to form the government, and our only request is that the officials facilitate the formation of the government, in which we will not participate, but we will help in its formation."
The Independent National Bloc, which includes MPs Tony Frangieh, Farid Haykal-Khazen, Melhem Tawk and Michel Murr, has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
The four MPs of the Kataeb party have voted for Nawaf Salam to become prime minister-designate.
Announcing the party's choice, Kataeb leader MP Sami Gemayel said, "In accordance with the [parliamentary] election results in which the Lebanese were clear about their desire for change, we are trying as an opposition party to change the ongoing rhetoric through electing a prime minister that has a different vision in managing the [economic] crisis, which is judge Nawaf Salam."
Photo: The leader of the Kataeb Sami Gemayel during L'Orient-Le Jour's podcast "At the citizen polls!" (Credit: L'Orient-Le Jour)
A day ahead of today's binding consultations, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati appeared to be the clear favorite to be named premier-designate: Mikati is the favorite, but…
Photo: President of the Republic Michel Aoun, flanked by Prime Minister Najib Mikati (r), and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri in Baabda. (AFP/Dalati and Nohra archive photo)
What happens after the designation of a prime minister?
Whoever is selected as a prime minister-designate will still have to form a government, a process that can take months.
Should the new premier-designate succeed in forming a cabinet relatively quickly, it will be considered resigned when Aoun’s presidential term ends in October and process of government formation must start over.
The Gathering of MPs of the North (National Moderation Bloc/former Future MPs), which is made of six MPs, has voted for caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
Here’s how the binding parliamentary consultations work:
During the consultations, members of Parliament divided in blocs submit their choice to President Michel Aoun at the Presidential Palace in Baabda. The president cannot overrule the majority choice.
The candidate that gets the most votes at the end of the consultations must be selected to become prime minister-designate (and there is no quorum, therefore even if some of the blocs do not show up or cast a blank vote — the majority candidate is still selected).
The consultations are scheduled to end at about 5 p.m.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab (FPM/Metn) has said he will not vote for anyone in the prime minister-designate selection process.
MP Ashraf Rifi (Independent/Tripoli) said in a statement this morning that he will boycott the parliamentary consultations.
"As a show of responsibility to the Lebanese, who will be disappointed because of the constant blockings before and after the designation [of a prime minister], I will boycott the consultations." Rifi said in his statement.
Photo: MP Ashraf Rifi. (Credit: NNA)
There are thus far two names in the mix to become prime minister-designate: caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Nawaf Salam, the permanent representative of Lebanon to the UN and a judge on the International Court of Justice.
Read our short profile of the frontrunners here.
Photo: The Presidential Palace in Baabda, where today's binding consultations are taking place. (Credit: Lebanese Presidency website)
Over the course of today, Lebanon’s parliamentary blocs will head to the Presidential Palace in Baabda to inform President Michel Aoun of their preference for the head of the country’s next government. Join us to follow all the action on a day that will culminate in the naming of the country’s next prime minister.
The outcome of the blocs’ consultations with the president is binding, meaning that Aoun must designate the candidate with a plurality of votes in his — or her, though there are no women’s names in the mix thus far — favor to form the next cabinet.
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