Berri says Maronite disaccord complicating presidential vote

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri will not call for another "theatrical" session that would not elect a president.

In an interview with al-Akhbar newspaper, Berri said that he will try to break the impasse and that he will only call for a session when he senses that the parties are ready to elect, not to "waste time" and "make statements."

"Our candidate is known but their candidate is a test-tube experiment," Berri told al-Akhbar, in remarks published Thursday.

"The only two serious candidates are Franjieh and Army chief Joseph Aoun," the speaker went on to say, adding tat it is currently impossible to elect the army chief, because it needs a constitutional amendment that cannot be made within a caretaker cabinet.

The Shiite Duo MPs have cast blank votes during all the voting sessions, but their real presidential candidate is Marada leader, Suleiman Franjieh.

Like many of Lebanon's prominent political figures, Franjieh hails from a storied dynasty.

His grandfather and namesake was president when Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war broke out.

In 1978, his father, politician Tony Franjieh, along with his mother and sister, were murdered by rival Christian fighters while he was elsewhere in the country.

"We are trying to secure more votes for him," Berri said, explaining why the Duo hasn't officially voted for Franjieh yet. He added that the Duo is trying to convince Free Patriotic Movement leader Jebran Bassil to vote for Franjieh.

Franjieh, a former lawmaker and minister close to Hezbollah and a personal friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has not officially announced his candidacy, but said he was interested in the position.

His name had been touted for the presidency many times before but he never secured enough support to win.

Hezbollah and Amal back his candidacy, although Hezbollah's Christian ally the Free Patriotic Movement would not endorse him.

“The main problem in the presidential elections is inter-Maronite,” Berri said, accusing the Maronites of failing to agree on a president.

"Their disagreement is over who among them would be president," he went on to say. "They all know who they don't want to become president but are failing to agree on a president, so they get confused and further complicate the presidential election."

Source: Naharnet

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