Naharnet

Berri Seeks to Call for Parliamentary Session amid Presidential Vacuum

Speaker Nabih Berri intends to call for a parliamentary session this month, a move that requires consultations with the rival blocs over the vacuum at Baabda Palace.

Al-Liwaa daily on Tuesday quoted Berri as telling his visitors that he is seeking to call for a session by the end of March.

But such an invitation would be preceded by a meeting for the parliament's bureau to discuss the session's agenda, which will likely include the food safety draft-law and a proposal on oil exploration.

Parliament convenes twice a year in two ordinary sessions -- the first starts mid-march until the end of May and the second from the middle of October through the end of December.

Article 33 of the Constitution confirms that extraordinary sessions can be held at the request of "an absolute majority" of the parliament.

An Nahar daily, however, said Berri should launch consultations with the Christian blocs in parliament, which have expressed reservations over holding sessions in the absence of a president.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since President Michel Suleiman's six-year tenure ended in May last year.

The rival blocs have so far failed to elect a successor despite more than a dozen rounds of sessions.

Among the first to react to Berri's plans on Tuesday was Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra.

“We reject holding legislative sessions in the absence of a president,” he said at a press conference he held at the parliament.

“The constitutions stipulates that the legislature would be transformed into an electoral body in the absence of a president,” he added.


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