Lebanon: Parliament Fails for 6th Time to Elect a President
The Lebanese Parliament failed for the sixth time on Thursday to elect a successor to former president Michel Aoun, whose term expired on October 31.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri chaired Thursday’s parliament meeting. Five legislators out of 128-member parliament did not attend.
Legislators cast their paper ballots into a wooden box in Parliament’s assembly hall.
Forty three cast votes for lawmaker Michel Mouawad, forty six cast blank votes, seven cast votes for Issam Khalifeh and nine cast votes for “a new Lebanon”.
The remaining votes were split between Ziad Baroud, Suleiman Franjieh, Michel Daher and two other canceled votes.
Lawmakers of the March 8 alliance including the Free Patriotic Movement left the Parliament breaking the session’s required quorum. Berri announced a new session next Thursday.
In each of the six sessions convened to elect a head of state, the March 8 alliance bloc has walked out before lawmakers could hold a second round of voting which would have reduced the number of ballots needed for victory from 86 to 65.
Lawmakers and the speaker quarreled about the quorum needed to elect a president.
At the beginning of the session, Kataeb party leader Sami Gemayel asked Berri about the constitutional basis he relies on to specify the “required” quorum for a session to convene.
Gemayel said that article 49 of Lebanon’s constitution has “no mention of a quorum” as a predicament to elect a new president for the country.
“Out of our parliamentary responsibility, we hope that a clear explanation and discussion of the constitution is made in parliament, because we will not witness the election of a president in the future if things continue this way,” said Gemayel.
Berri, on his part, defended his judgment saying that the parliamentary sessions should always convene with a two-third majority.
Controversy over the required quorum to elect a president surfaced during the fifth parliament meeting when opposition lawmakers requested a majority vote, 65 votes, for the election of a president. But Berri insisted that a two-third quorum is necessary.