Berri: Conditions Not Ripe to Hold Presidential Elections on Wednesday, Hopes Hariri Will Attend

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Speaker Nabih Berri voiced his skepticism that the parliamentary session to elect a president will be held, saying that the conditions to ensure its success are “not ripe yet,” reported As Safir newspaper on Friday.

He remarked: “The conditions may not be ripe at the moment, but that does not mean that they will not be available before next Wednesday.”

The speaker had called parliament to convene on April 23 to elect a president.

Asked if head of the Mustaqbal Movement MP Saad Hariri will attend the session, Berri replied: “I hope so and that he would remain in Lebanon permanently.”

Media reports had linked a recent visit by Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi to Saudi Arabia to Hariri’s return to Lebanon to attend the presidential elections session.

Commenting on the session, Berri said that he will kick it off once the quorum of two-thirds of lawmakers is met and then the election process could get underway.

“If a president is elected during this first round, then the elections would be complete, otherwise a second or third round may be held,” he explained.

In addition, he revealed that he will chair a meeting for his Development and Liberation bloc on Tuesday in order to discuss the presidential elections and agree on a candidate, said al-Joumhouria newspaper.

“The March 8 camp only has one candidate and that is Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun. The March 14 alliance on the other hand has several candidates,” he remarked.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea of the March 14 alliance is so far the only official to submit his candidacy.

He presented his presidential program on Wednesday.

Media reports had said on Thursday that Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel, also of the March 14 camp, will announce his nomination before the end of the week.

The March 8 camp has not yet announced its candidate, but Aoun has reportedly informed his ally Hizbullah that he is prepared to take the post if there was consensus on him.

Aoun has allegedly sent similar messages to Hariri, who leads the March 14 camp.

Berri has said that any candidate must secure 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.

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