BEIRUT — Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri warned on Monday that "Lebanon can endure a few more weeks, but not more" of its current economic crisis and political deadlock amid a total vacancy at the level of executive power, his media office reported following a meeting with Press Order members.
Last week, Michel Aoun ended his presidential term without a replacement, while the government has been in caretaker mode since parliamentary elections in May.
Berri added in Monday's statement that he planned to convene weekly parliamentary sessions to elect a new president, following four previous failed sessions to do so.
Berri also defended his call for a national dialogue meeting, which he had dropped last week following the refusal of several political parties, including the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement — which are the country's main Christian parties — to participate.
Berri added in Monday's statement that amid the financial crisis that has spiraled downward since 2019, "Lebanon can endure a few weeks, but not more. Lebanon and the Lebanese cannot bear further collapse."
The parliament speaker, who also heads the Amal Movement, defended the idea of a dialogue meeting between all parliamentary groups.
"The agenda of the dialogue that was proposed was merely to find a consensus around the presidential election, period," he said. The next parliamentary voting session is scheduled for Thursday.
"All the points of disagreement Lebanon has gone through have been resolved through dialogue and consensus, from Taif to Doha to the dialogue tables inside the country," Berri also said.
On Saturday, Saudi ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari held a meeting at the Unesco Palace in Beirut to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Taif agreement, which helped bring an end to the Lebanese Civil War. A slew of Lebanese political leaders participated in the meeting, where Bukhari stressed the importance of respecting the 1989 agreement.
In response, Hezbollah, allied with the Amal movement, denounced what it called the "venomous interference" of the Saudi monarchy through its insistence on upholding Taif.
"The Taif agreement is not an Arab invention, it is a constitution that ensured equality among the Lebanese," said Berri, who acknowledged, however, "having failed three times to implement the National Commission for the Abolition of Political Sectarianism, the electoral law and the establishment of a senate," points that were included in the constitution after its revision in 1989 following the Taif agreement.
On the sidelines of the meeting held on Saturday, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that Taif "remains the most valid agreement" to have taken place between rival political forces in Lebanon. He added that Bukhari's insistence on upholding Taif indicates that "Saudi Arabia has not abandoned Lebanon."