BEIRUT — Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has affirmed that his party, Amal, and its allies, notably Hezbollah, will vote in favor of presidential candidate Sleiman Frangieh at the next presidential election session in Parliament on June 14.
This puts an end to speculation in the press that the Hezbollah camp might vote blank in order not to embarrass its candidate, who could garner fewer votes than the opposition parties' candidate, Jihad Azour.
"We're going to vote for Sleiman Frangieh. We're all going to vote for him. We and our allies. None of us said we were going to vote blank," Berri said in a statement to the al-Akhbar newspaper published on Wednesday. "We first opted for a blank vote before formalizing our support for Frangieh," he acknowledged, however.
Asked whether his position towards Frangieh was definitive, Berri was categorical: "Didn't we already propose his candidacy? We have. If we don't vote for him, it means we have withdrawn our support." He added: "It's possible that other parliamentary groups will opt for a blank vote because of their dissatisfaction with the candidates, but we have no plans to do the same."
Berri has called MPs for a 12th session dedicated to the presidential election on Wednesday, June 14, after a five-month wait since the last such parliamentary meeting. Under pressure, notably from Washington, to organize the ballot, Berri insisted on the need to have at least two serious candidates before taking action.
Over the weekend, the majority of opposition parties, as well as Gebran Bassil's Free Patriotic Movement, officially threw their support behind the current head of the Middle East and Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund and former Finance Minister, Jihad Azour.
Some analysts believe that Frangieh's supporters may attempt to induce a loss of a quorum as a means of preventing a second round vote, as happened with former opposition candidate Michel Moawad. However, this session will offer Azour the opportunity to position himself as a serious contender to enter Baabda Palace if he achieves a higher number of votes than his rival, who will also be facing the ballot box for the first time.
To be elected president, a candidate must garner a two-thirds majority of the vote in the first round of voting in Parliament. If no candidate succeeds in achieving this in the first round, the election proceeds to a second round in which a candidate only needs to win a simple majority (i.e., 65 votes) in order to be deemed elected.
BEIRUT — Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has affirmed that his party, Amal, and its allies, notably Hezbollah, will vote in favor of presidential candidate Sleiman Frangieh at the next presidential election session in Parliament on June 14.This puts an end to speculation in the press that the Hezbollah camp might vote blank in order not to embarrass its candidate, who could garner...