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Report: Berri Adamant 'Will Never Nominate Aoun'

Speaker Nabih Berri affirmed his adamant stance that he will not nominate MP Michel Aoun for the presidential post, as he conveyed the message to Hizbullah, al-Akhbar daily reported on Monday.

“I will not nominate Aoun, don't you try with me,” Berri was quoted by March 8 sources as telling Hizbullah officials.

He was also quoted as saying “that Saudi Arabia will never accept Aoun as a president, and will prevent his arrival at the Baabda Palace even though he garners the support of Mustaqbal Movement chief Saad Harri,” according to the daily.

The sources conveyed, on condition of anonymity, Berri's dismay as for the so-called Hariri-Aoun bilateral agreement, noting that he commented harshly and said: “So now it is Jebran Bassil and Nader Hariri who decide who will the next president, prime minister and Speaker be! And, they are the ones who distribute the quotas and portfolios and all I have to do is sign?”

Free Patriotic Movement founder Aoun's chances to be elected president have largely surged in recent days and Education Minister Elias Bou Saab of the FPM announced Sunday that ex-PM Saad Hariri has officially decided to endorse Aoun's presidential bid.

Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and Hizbullah, Aoun's Change and Reform bloc and some of their allies have been boycotting the parliament's electoral sessions, stripping them of the needed quorum.

Hariri, who is close to Saudi Arabia, launched an initiative in late 2015 to nominate Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency but his proposal was met with reservations from the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.

The supporters of Aoun's presidential bid argue that he is more eligible than Franjieh to become president due to the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.


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