All you need to know about the opposition's presidential initiative

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Crisis-hit Lebanon remains without a president since Michel Aoun's term ended in October 2022, as tensions boil on the border with Israel since October 7.

In a bid to break the impasse, opposition lawmakers started an initiative Tuesday, announcing two suggestions to facilitate the election of a president.

On Wednesday, the opposition MPs met with lawmakers from the Democratic Gathering bloc, the National Moderation bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement's Strong Lebanon bloc and other change and independent MPs.

As neither of the two main blocs -- Hezbollah and its opponents -- has the majority required to elect a president, Speaker Nabih Berri has long called for a dialogue. The Lebanese Forces refuse a dialogue chaired by Berri.

The opposition suggested consultations in parliament without an official invitation - it means that consultations would not be chaired by Berri. They also proposed another suggestion: an open presidential election session chaired by Berri, during which MPs and blocs would hold consultations outside parliament’s hall after the first round of voting and then return to vote in successive rounds.

Amal MP Qassem Hashem criticized the opposition's initiative. "The shortest way to elect a president is Berri's initiative," Hashem said. "Anything else is a waste of time."

LF leader Samir Geagea for his part accused the rival Hezbollah-led camp of rejecting dialogue over the presidential file, after it reportedly criticized his initiative. They "have been calling for dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. Their lying and hypocrisy have become evident to all Lebanese,” he said.

Berri responded that parliamentary blocs do not take orders from Geagea or await a roadmap from him. "Geagea's statement would have been enough, there was no need to announce an initiative," Berri said.

Pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper reported Thursday that the Democratic Gathering and the National Moderation blocs have advised the opposition to meet with Berri, adding that the Democratic Gathering bloc MPs have stressed that it is normal that Berri chairs the dialogue, as a parliament speaker.

The daily claimed that the FPM MPs also advised to go for Berri's dialogue. The FPM, in a statement Wednesday, showed positivity towards the opposition's initiate. It called on both parties - the Shiite Duo and the opposition - to consider consultations to reach consensus on a president instead of electing one through a democratic vote an exception and not a norm.

Another local newspaper, ad-Diyar said that the U.S. ambassador has also advised the opposition to talk to Berri in order to elect a president before September.

The five-nation group, which comprises the ambassadors of the U.S., France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt, had met Tuesday with the opposition MPs. The meeting wasn't fruitful, ad-Diyar said, as it did not include any solution or proposal.

On June 14 last year, lawmakers failed for the 12th time to elect a president as candidates Jihad Azour and Suleiman Franjieh both failed to get across the line in the 128-seat parliament.

SourceNaharnet
Comments 1
Thumb chrisrushlau 15 hours

You mean "neither"? So you have the Hezbullah bloc, the bloc of the opponents of Hezbullah, and the opposition?