This concludes our live coverage of the Parliament's second session to elect a new president. This session ended due to a lack of quorum. A new session is scheduled for Oct. 20. Thank you for following.
Forces of Change MP Melhem Khalaf in a statement after the Parliament's session has yet to be officially informed of the maritime border deal between Lebanon and Israel, deeming that refraining from sending the deal to the Parliament, "which represents the Lebanese people" for it to be discussed "is a constitutional breach."
He announced that his parliamentary group, along with other colleagues from other blocks, sent a letter to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in which they emphasized that the proposed items in the maritime border agreement are "inconsistent with international law" and they "demanded that it be submitted to Parliament for a vote."
The head of the Free Patriotic Movement Gebran Bassil criticized the holding of a parliamentary session on Oct, 13, in a statement during a ceremony at the "unknown solider memorial" in front of the National Museum. The date is a highly symbolic one for the FPM party, marking the anniversary of Oct. 13, 1990, when Michel Aoun, FPM founder who was then head of the army and prime minister of a military cabinet, was chased out of the Baabda Palace by Syrian troops.
According to Bassil, this commemoration is "more important than anything else."
"Some people betrayed this date and did not respect the commemoration," he added.
According to our count, a quorum was not reached after only 71 MPs entered the Parliament's General Assembly. The required quorum is 86 MPs out of 128.
Among the main absentees were:
- 21 MPs from the Strong Lebanon bloc (17 Free Patriotic Movement MPs and the three Armenian MPs from the Tashnag party), who had announced they would boycott the meeting.
- The majority of MPs from Hezbollah, FPM's long-time ally. Only four of them (Mohammad Raad, Ali Ammar, Raaed Berro and Hassan Fadlallah) entered the General Assembly room. The others entered Parliament but remained in their offices.
- Some MPs from the Amal movement of the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri.
Other members had officially notified the Parliament Secretariat General of their absence prior to the parliamentary session:
- Three Forces of Change MPs: Cynthia Zarazir, who underwent surgery, as well as Elias Jaradeh and Waddah Sadek, who are both currently abroad.
- Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel; Marada MP Tony Frangieh, son of the Maronite leader Sleiman Frangieh; and Farid al-Khazen, an ally of Frangieh and Hezbollah.
Make sure to also read through the following profile: Michel Moawad, champion of the ‘sovereignist camp’
Michel Moawad, MP for Zgharta and a presidential candidate who received 36 votes in Parliament's first electoral session, once again called on the opposition to unify.
"The only possible way to achieve the election of a president is to unify the ranks," he said, adding that "throwing names at random can only lead to the election of a president who has no color or position or project."
"What is essential is to unite the opposition around a proposal and a project, before entering the game of names," he added, calling on opposition groups to continue their discussions.
Moawad also reported a "breakthrough in terms of who would support him," adding that he would have been able to gain more MP votes than in Parliament's first presidential voting session.
Forces of Change MP Marc Daou told local media that his bloc "participated today, based on our national responsibility, in the session to elect a president and adhere to the Constitution," adding that his bloc has an initiative that it directed toward everyone, "because we know that the country cannot tolerate a vacuum and the Presidency of the Republic is the entrance to the real solution."
He was referring to the initiative where Forces of Change MPs met with all parliamentary groups in order to reach an agreement regarding a new president and establish the profile of the upcoming president based on a list of "standards."
Daou added that his bloc has "a basket with names" for presidential candidates and the MPs who are not sure who to elect and keep casting a blank vote can choose a candidate from this basket.
On a separate note, the MP also added that the maritime border agreement with Israel that was reached on Tuesday, should not be passed without the Parliament's approval.
"We are surely heading towards a presidential vacancy," said MP Marwan Hamadeh, a member of the parliamentary group of Walid Joumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party.
Leader of the Kataeb Sami Gemayel also felt that "there is an embarrassment within a specific party that can not choose a candidate and prefers to find excuses not to be embarrassed during the vote." Some MPs from groups such as the FPM, Hezbollah, and Tashnag had not attended the session.
"It is not in their interest to hold the session since they have not yet chosen a candidate," Gemayel added, in a criticism of the Aounist camp, Hezbollah and their allies.
"We are ready at any time to elect a president but it is clear today that several parties are not ready for the presidential election because of differences," said MP Georges Adwan (Lebanese Forces) as he was exiting Parliament. He called on all parliamentary groups to make "clear choices."
Berri postponed the session to elect Lebanon's next president to next Thursday, Oct. 20 at 11 a.m.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri ended the session due to a lack of quorum of two-thirds of Parliament, or 86 out of a total of 128 MPs, not being reached. This was due to the absence and boycott of several MPs, including those of the MP Gebran Bassil's Free Patriotic Movement.
The Constitution does not mention that the presidency is reserved for a religious group. It was on the basis of the National Pact, an agreement established between the different forces in the country in 1943, at the time of independence, that the three presidencies were shared out between the main communities in Lebanon: the Lebanese presidency to a Maronite Christian, the head of government to a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of the House to a Shiite Muslim.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri began the parliamentary session for the election of Lebanon's next president, shortly after 11 a.m.
The international community has been pressing for several months for the election of a new head of state, in parallel with the numerous reforms required by the International Monetary Fund in order to release an aid package to help lift Lebanon out of its financial crisis.
While waiting for the session to start, read through historical moments in Lebanon's presidency: Charles Debbas: Lebanon’s first and last Orthodox president.
Or catch up on the developments of Parliament's first presidential session: Presidential election’s live coverage: Session adjourned after first round of vote
Make sure to also read through the following analysis: For Michel Aoun, a victory at all costs?
Still waiting? Read through this article: No option other than pragmatism for Gebran Bassil
Thursday's session was called last week despite there being no consensus on a candidate between various political groups, similar to Parliament's first meeting on Sept. 29. Lebanon has been in a presidential election period since Sept. 1.
LIVE: Second session to elect Lebanon's next president
Keep up with our live coverage of the Parliament's presidential election session to elect Lebanon's next president, starting at 11 a.m.
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