Bassil Receives Letter from Kerry as Officials Race Against Time to Resolve Presidential Crisis

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Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil has discussed with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal the presidential deadlock as al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri intensified his meetings to avoid a vacuum, An Nahar daily reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper said that Bassil held long discussions with al-Faisal on Tuesday, which required him to stay another day in Riyadh.

Bassil, who is a Free Patriotic Movement official, returned to Beirut on Wednesday.

In the afternoon, Bassil met with U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the latter handed the FM a letter from his American counterpart John Kerry.

But the content of the letter was not revealed, the state-run National News Agency noted.

The meeting between Bassil and Hale lasted for 40 minutes, after which the United States' diplomat left without making any statement, the NNA added.

The FPM official also met with French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli earlier in the morning.

Meanwhile, Hariri is expected to intensify his meetings in Paris with officials involved in the presidential process in a race against time to avoid vacuum at the country's top Christian post.

President Michel Suleiman's six-year term expires on May 25. But lawmakers have failed in three rounds to elect a new head of state over differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances.

The Hizbullah-led March 8 camp has also reacted negatively to a proposal to make a constitutional amendment to keep Suleiman in power pending the election of a new president.

Speaker Nabih Berri told his visitors on Tuesday that there was “nothing tangible” with regards to the efforts to resolve the presidential deadlock despite the “continuous contact” between FPM chief Michel Aoun and Hariri.

He accused certain parties without naming them of seeking to encourage foreign meddling in the polls.

Some sides are “trying to kill time with the aim of inviting foreign interference,” he was quoted as saying.

“But Saudi Arabia, Iran, the U.S. and European countries want the presidential elections to be held on time,” the speaker said, adding “they don't back any candidate.”

The fourth round of the elections that is set to take place on Thursday is expected to meet the same fate of its predecessors unless a last-minute deal between the rivals changes the course of the polls.

The March 8 alliance, except for Berri's bloc, has been boycotting the parliamentary sessions, resulting in a lack of quorum.



Comments 23
Missing karim_ 14 May 2014, 08:06

Why do we have to take Saudi Arabia's input into account in trying to elect our President? What does the modern-day founder of terrorism know about democracy? Why should we be asking these barbaric terrorists for advice?

Thumb -phoenix1 14 May 2014, 13:49

Ya Karim, ya habibi, ya khayye, our procedure to elect a President is being delayed and delayed again because we have decided to keep it a Lebanese affair. I wrote yesterday replying to your post, that if you don't want the candidate that is chosen by M14, then tell us whom you want but please, not the old man Aoun. So for God's sake, it would help a lot if you for once dropped that same old chant about someone outside of Iran is trying to meddle, the very fact that Hezbollah is dragging its feet over this matter is ample meddling by those mentors of it. But if in case no consensus is reached soo, then you will have yourselves another soldier taking over the one who is expected to leave soon, and the new guy thinks exactly as his predecessor.

Missing cedars 14 May 2014, 14:25

The difference is very simple, Saudi Arabia sends money to the Lebanese army but the Iranian send it to the militia via Syria to ensure the latter has a cut in the deals so that the militia can't divorce the Syrian regime.

Thumb FlameCatcher 14 May 2014, 16:29

@Karim : The modern day founder of terrorism is Hezbollah who invented Suicide bombings and the arab explosive car...

Thumb amatoury114 14 May 2014, 21:11

ya karkour ya karim i think in wikipedia when you look up idiot u come up as an example...i feel sorry for you.what do u call HA peaceful backgammon club?

Missing cedars 15 May 2014, 04:26

Thumb down from me because you are a bone head. The candidate that gets the most votes in the parliament gets to become the president. Not 1/3 or 2/3 simply more voted candidate. Why wait a week or meet with all ambassadors, call a daily session and do your job otherwise you represent no citizens.

Default-user-icon Vahe (Guest) 14 May 2014, 08:20

Why not extend SLEIMAN'S term?

Thumb amatoury114 14 May 2014, 21:13

the only chair aoun should see is the electric one

Thumb general_puppet 14 May 2014, 09:10

This is all part of the soap opera... the militia wants a vacuum, so they can freely do their Jihadist duty without a Lebanese Presidential interfering.

Default-user-icon Hanoun (Guest) 14 May 2014, 09:12

popular vote for presidency is the only solution to curb outside interferences and sterile political quarrels and nothing is needed to do it except a date no parliament sessions, no officials racing against time ,....
god bless real democracy

Missing politik_buro 14 May 2014, 12:03

I doubt presidential interference would make much difference, there has to be something more to it, there has to be a bigger picture we can't see. It's very obvious that there are some major regional changes about to happen, and I think in the next few days we will see some surprising developments in the alliances. I fear for Lebanon, it looks like for some the country is the last thing that matters.

Default-user-icon Zeus (Guest) 14 May 2014, 14:38

1988 Aoun was appointed prime minister who's only duty was to urgently secure the ekection of a president. Instead he decided he was "Président et six Ministres" illegally moved into the presidential palace, started and lost two wars then ran away. It was him or nobody and was willing to destroy the country to become president, here we go again.

Thumb gma-bs-artist. 14 May 2014, 20:24

No, the real story is this. The heroic General Aoun was true to his word and as he promised, when everyone else fled the Baabda Palace the bravest of the braves General Aoun stayed behind alone defending his command post. When he ran out of ammo he used the kitchen utensils and was able to down thirteen and a half Syrian special forces commandos with a spatula and a whisk before he was overwhelmed and was martyred. But he surprised all the doubters and the nonbeliever when he was resurrected three hours later and appeared in the French embassy on the right of Alla, Rene Alla the French ambassador, it was a miracle... and that's the rest of the story.

Missing helicopter 14 May 2014, 15:13

The constitutional amendment should read:
If Parliament fails to elect a new President on time, the Parliament must be declared resigned (their pay and benefits ceased) and new Parliamentary elections held.
Parliament must be held accountable for all the mess we are in.

Missing politik_buro 14 May 2014, 15:18

And that my friend is the answer to the question I've been asking all along, this is the aim of one of the parties, to ensure they have favorable majority, by any means, of the parliamentary votes. This is why it is crucial to avoid this and elect a president, because as long as there is a military power on the ground that can overwhelm the national army, parliamentary elections can not be held democratically. You have just hit the nail on its head!!!

Thumb beiruti 14 May 2014, 15:18

Lebanon needs to change the way it elects its president. This deal with the Parliament and the ability of pretenders to boycott sessions and thus frustrate succession in the office of the Presidency is a joke.
The country needs to move to popular election. Still with a Maronite President, but let the people go to the polls and vote caza by caza with their vote determining the vote of the caza delegation, much as the electoral college elects the US President.

Thumb beiruti 14 May 2014, 15:19

It would therefore still require 65 votes of Parliament to be elected, but the people, the citizens of Lebanon would vote and their vote would determine how the Deputies cast their votes. Rather than Berri or Aoun or Nasrallah deciding, or KSA or Tehran, or Paris or Washington deciding, the Lebanese should be the source of the vote with their personal votes cast for their President.

Missing politik_buro 14 May 2014, 15:31

As horrible as the following question might sound, it is the reality of Lebanon. Why would you let the top Christian post in Lebanon be decided by non Christians? I think due to the ugly sectarian system every sect should elect their top post

Thumb beiruti 14 May 2014, 16:19

My friend, non-Christians already elect the top Christian post in Lebanon. This is nothing new. And remember the top post in Lebanon, the Head of State is reserved for the Christian Maronite sect. But he or she is representative of the whole country. It is good for confessional integration that non-Christians should have a hand in voting for a Christian just as Christians should have a hand in electing non-Christians to office. All sects, Christian and non-Christian, Muslim and non-Muslim are nevertheless all Lebanese.

Missing politik_buro 14 May 2014, 15:23

The next parliamentary elections have to be held without the effect of arms, only then you would know what Lebanese actually want. This president to be elected is so feared by someone because they know he has a very small constitutional right that could render chaos into their plans. The minute this parliament loses the power vote favorable to them, they will loose all legitimacy, whether they care about that or not, it does not matter, but it will at last expose to many of their or their allies followers their true intentions and their priorities, which most definitely do not include the best interest of Lebanon as an independent entity

Thumb beiruti 14 May 2014, 16:24

In a society such as Lebanon that is politically segregated by Confessional Identity the person with the greatest national credibility is the one who can secure cross confessional support. The Uber-Maronite may be the Maronite's ultimate candidate, but what credibility does he or she have nationally, even among the non-Maronite Christians? Very little. The Maronite President must be Maronite, of course, but he or she must arise above the parochialism of his sect, from which he came, to see the whole country and serve all of her people.

Default-user-icon Machich (Guest) 14 May 2014, 17:53

Only the smart person will know why there is no foreign intervention. C'mon guys, let's see who amongst you is of literacy, wisdom and knowledge.

Default-user-icon George (Guest) 15 May 2014, 10:31

i think it is high time the constitution is changed, and we remove from the deputees their role in selecting a president. I would propose we elect the president by popular vote. The candidates have to convince us the voters, and not a party or another, nor some other country(ies).