Berri to Change ‘Classical’ Approach, Aoun Adamant to Clinch Deal with Mustaqbal over Polls

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Speaker Nabih Berri has warned that he would change his “classical” approach to the presidential polls if lawmakers failed again to elect a new head of state.

In remarks published by local dailies on Monday, Berri said: “I am so far dealing with the presidential elections in a classical way.”

“But if the situation continued this way, then I will change my approach after two (parliamentary) sessions at most,” he said.

Berri stressed that the Lebanese should take advantage of non-interference of foreign countries in the presidential polls, to elect a “made in Lebanon president.”

Lebanon has gone down on the scale of priorities of foreign countries due to the regional crises and pressing international issues, he said.

His remarks came amid lack of agreement between the rival parties on a consensus candidate, a move that is expected to lead to another lack of quorum in parliament during a session scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

Lawmakers failed last week to elect a new president as no candidate was able to garner the needed two-thirds of votes of the 128-member parliament to become Lebanon’s next head of state.

Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea received the votes of only 48 MPs while 16 lawmakers voted for Aley lawmaker Henri Helou, one for Kataeb party chief ex-President Amin Gemayel and 52 MPs from the Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance cast blank ballots.

The majority of March 8 alliance MPs withdrew from the session after the vote, resulting in lack of quorum.

The same scenario is expected for Wednesday’s session, during which a candidate needs a simple majority of 65 MPs to win.

Officials did not expect Geagea to receive more than 50 votes. Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun won’t be able to garner more than 57 votes if he decided to announce his candidacy, they said.

An Nahar daily said that Aoun, a member of the March 8 alliance, is expected to travel to Paris to hold talks with al-Mustaqbal movement chief ex-PM Saad Hariri.

Aoun has repeatedly said that he would not announce his candidacy if there was no consensus on him.

He is trying to clinch a deal with the March 14 alliance and mainly al-Mustaqbal movement to support his candidacy.

But the coalition’s members have stressed that Geagea is still March 14’s only candidate for the country’s top Christian post.

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