Jumblat Meets Berri, Says Speaker Keen on 'Institutions, Stability'
Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat held talks Friday evening in Ain el-Tineh with Speaker Nabih Berri, around an hour before an expected meeting between him and Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun.
“I explained to Speaker Berri my stance on Monday's presidential election session. There is nominal discrepancy but there is also a long history of common struggle,” Jumblat said after the talks.
“The speaker remains the first statesman who is keen on stability, institutions and the Lebanese state,” added Jumblat.
The PSP leader is scheduled to meet Aoun in Clemenceau at 7:30 pm, according to state-run National News Agency.
Aoun was tipped to become president after al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri formally endorsed his nomination last week.
While Berri has openly announced that his bloc will not vote for Aoun, Jumblat has reportedly told FPM chief Jebran Bassil that eight MPs of his 11-member Democratic Gathering bloc would vote for the FPM founder.
Berri's aides have accused Aoun and Hariri of striking a “bilateral” agreement that would marginalize Shiites in power, allegations that Aoun and his movement have denied.
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 had launched an initiative in late 2015 to nominate Hizbullah's ally and 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 have argued 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.