Berri Says 87% of Muslim MPs Attending Presidential Election Sessions

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Speaker Nabih Berri has stressed that it was up to Christian leaders to agree to resolve the presidential deadlock, saying 87% of Muslim lawmakers were attending parliamentary sessions.

Berri denied that holding the presidential elections needed a Sunni-Shiite dialogue, saying “the problem is not with Muslims.”

“Let the Christians agree,” the speaker was quoted as saying by his visitors.

Around 95 percent of Sunni, 98 percent of Druze and 50 percent of Shiite lawmakers are attending the sessions aimed at electing a president, he said.

Meaning, around 87 percent of Muslims – a number far bigger than the attendance of Christian MPs – are not boycotting the sessions, Berri said.

“I am saying this for patriotic reasons and not from confessional bases,” he added.

His remarks were published in newspapers that hit the newsstands on Monday.

“We have gone through difficult phases before. But as far as I know, this is the first time that the Lebanese could make their own decisions,” he said.

Berri lamented that the Lebanese haven’t so far taken the opportunity to resolve their problems, saying however that they still had time to unite.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since May 25 when President Michel Suleiman’s six-year term ended amid the failure of rival MPs to agree on a consensus candidate.

Last week, Berri postponed a 10th electoral round to September 2 after only 55 MPs attended the session.

The Constitution states that two-thirds of parliament’s 128 members should be present to have a quorum.

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