Berri says to call for presidential vote session before mid-October

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has said that he will call for a second presidential election session before the middle of the current month.

“All parties must shoulder their responsibilities regarding this juncture,” Berri added, in remarks to Annahar newspaper published Monday.

He also clarified that his call for “consensus” over a president “does not stand for the unanimity of the 128 MPs.”

The Lebanese parliament on Thursday held a first presidential election round in which no candidate managed to garner 86 votes needed to win from the first round.

As 63 MPs cast blank ballots, 36 voted for MP Michel Mouawad, 11 voted for entrepreneur and philanthropist Salim Edde and 10 voted for "Lebanon".

Dozens of MPs walked out of the session after the results of the first round were announced, stripping the second round of the needed 86-MP quorum. This prompted Berri to announce that he will not call for another session before "consensus" is secured over a certain candidate.

The Lebanese Forces, the Kataeb Party, the Progressive Socialist Party and a number of MPs and small blocs had announced prior to the session that they would vote for Mouawad. The Change bloc meanwhile said that it would vote for Edde.

Hezbollah, Berri’s bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement and their allies meanwhile cast blank ballots.

Deep divisions among MPs have raised fears that Lebanon could be left without a president for months after President Michel Aoun's mandate runs out at the end of October.

The incumbent's own election in 2016 came after a 29-month vacancy at the presidential palace as lawmakers made 45 failed attempts to reach consensus on a candidate.

In the first round of voting, a two-thirds majority of 86 votes is required for a candidate to win. When the election goes to a second round, the required majority falls to 65.

The international community has pressed Lebanese lawmakers to elect a new president in "timely" fashion to avoid plunging the country deeper into crisis.

Source: Naharnet

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