Jumblat Refuses to Announce his Nominee for Presidency ahead of Parliamentary Session

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Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat refused to reveal the name of his candidate to the presidency a day after Speaker Nabih Berri called for a session to elect a new head of state.

“Those who want to know my candidate for the presidency should wait until the parliamentary session,” Jumblat said in comments published in As Safir newspaper.

“I will not announce my stance now,” he added.

On Wednesday, Berri called for a parliamentary session to elect a new president on April 23.

Berri has said that a candidate should receive two-thirds of votes to win in the first round of elections and half-plus-one or 65 votes of the 128-member parliament to win in the second round.

President Michel Suleiman’s six-year term ends on May 25, but the Constitutional deadline for parliament to start convening to elect a new head of state started on March 25.

Under the 1943 power-sharing agreement, the president should be a Maronite, the prime minister a Sunni and the speaker a Shiite.

On Wednesday, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, a Maronite Christian, has announced his program for the presidency, a week after he officially declared his candidacy.

Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported that Jumblat held talks on Wednesday night with the adviser of al-Mustaqbal movement leader, Nader Hariri.

The newspaper said that the two officials discussed the latest developments and coordinated their stance concerning the upcoming first round of parliamentary sessions to elect a new president.

Hariri had previously held a meeting with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, who had reportedly informed him that Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun will not announce his candidacy for the presidency if there was no political consensus on him.

Similar meetings were held in the past week between Geagea and Saad Hariri’s envoy.

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