Naharnet

Speaker Seeking Consensus over Parliamentary Session

Speaker Nabih Berri is exerting efforts to convince the rival parliamentary blocs to attend an upcoming parliamentary session that mainly Christian lawmakers oppose amid the absence of a head of state.

The agenda of the session was distributed to lawmakers, An Nahar newspaper reported on Thursday.

It reportedly includes eight articles that will be placed to voting.

However, the date of the session hasn't been set yet, the daily said.

Sources told the newspaper that the stance of the Christian parties over the controversial session varies.

The Lebanese Forces and its old-time rival the Free Patriotic Movement leader will boycott the session over the agenda, the sources said. The LF is calling for the adoption of a new electoral law, while the FPM wants the amendment of the defense law.

On the other hand, the Kataeb party rejects to attend the session as the “parliament should be only considered as an electoral body and not a legislature” in the absence of a president.

Berri reiterated threats on Wednesday during his weekly meeting with MPs that he will dissolve the parliament to press lawmakers to carry out their Constitutional duties during the assembly's ordinary session, despite his knowledge that such a move is impossible amid the presidential vacuum.

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.

A meeting was held on Wednesday between March 14 lawmakers, including head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Saniora, LF MP Georges Adwan, Ghazi Yooussef and Marwan Hamadeh.

The gatherers, according to al-Joumhouria newspaper discussed several issues, including the state-budget for 2015.

Saniora described Berri after the meeting as a “pool player,” who can manage the crisis.

“The presidency is hijacked, the cabinet is paralyzed, and now we're only left with the parliament which should give a civilized image that it is active.”

Vacuum striking the presidential post is having a tough impact on the cabinet and the parliament as the state is threatened with further crises over ongoing rows between the rival parties.

Berri is seeking to call for a session to approve urgent issues, including the wage scale for the public sector and the food safety draft-law.

On Monday, deputy Speaker Farid Makari said that the majority of the representatives of the parliamentary blocs agreed to attend the upcoming legislative session.

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