Presidential Elections Postponed for Fourth Time over Lack of Quorum

Lawmakers once again failed on Thursday to elect a new president as differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances led to a lack of quorum in the fourth parliamentary session aimed at choosing a new head of state.

Speaker Nabih Berri set May 22 as the fifth round to hold the elections.

Only 73 lawmakers out of 128 were present at parliament.

MPs of the March 8 Loyalty to the Resistance bloc did not attend the session, while the majority of March 14 alliance members were present, reported Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3).

March 14 MP Nabil de Freij accused the March 8 of deliberately obstructing quorum, while MP Robert Ghanem rejected calls for a constitutional amendment regarding the elections.

Lebanese Forces leader and presidential candidate Samir Geagea had demanded, prior to the failure of the session, that such an amendment be introduced.

MP Sami Gemayel of the Kataeb Party stated from parliament after the session that he had hoped that Berri would call for daily presidential election sessions in order to elect a head of state before the term of President Michel Suleiman ends on May 25.

Commenting on the possibility of vacuum in the presidency, he said: “Some members of parliament are deliberately obstructing the election of a president.”

“These MPs are responsible for the vacuum,” he added.

“They must exercise their duties to elect a president, whether through casting a blank vote or voting for a candidate,” he stressed.

“They are not adopting democratic practices through boycotting parliament, but they are simply playing an obstructive role,” noted Gemayel, deeming the March 8 boycott as “unjustified.”

“Those obstructing quorum will be held responsible for the consequences of the vacuum,” warned the MP.

Two previous rounds of the elections were not held over the lack of quorum.

The first round of the elections was held in April, but neither candidates Geagea or Democratic Gathering MP Henri Helou, obtained the necessary 86 votes at the time to be elected head state.

Helou said after Thursday's session: “We now have a weekly appointment with the lawmakers' inability to hold the elections.”

“This unfortunate series of developments will continue should the political divisions persist,” he lamented.

He therefore suggested the proposal of “bold initiatives” to extract Lebanon from “the crisis that will begin after a few days” when Suleiman's term ends.

By law, if no president has been chosen by the last 10 days of the incumbent's mandate, parliament cannot meet for legislative sessions except to elect a new president.

That means, starting on Thursday, legislative action will grind to a halt.



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