For 36th time, Lebanon fails to choose new president
Boycott by Hezbollah PMs stymies assembly’s 36th attempt to elect new head of state
By Hamza Takin
Lebanon's parliament on Wednesday failed -- for the 36th time -- to elect the country's new president amid a boycott by Hezbollah lawmakers.
Seventy-two MPs attended Wednesday’s assembly session, falling short of the 86 necessary to meet a quorum for holding the vote.
Wednesday’s session was attended by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, while Hezbollah MPs and pro-Syria lawmakers failed to show up.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri postponed the vote to March 23, when MPs will try once again -- for the 37th time -- to elect a new head of state.
Former President Michel Suleiman’s term ended on May 25, 2014. Since then, Lebanon’s 128-seat parliament has been unable to muster the MPs necessary to elect a new president.
According to the country’s constitution, one third of the assembly -- 86 MPs -- must be present in order to hold a first-round vote.
On the same day as Wednesday’s scheduled vote, the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council designated Hezbollah -- Lebanon’s most powerful military force -- a "terrorist" organization.
Riyadh accuses Shia Hezbollah -- which since 2012 has sent fighters to Syria to help the Assad regime -- of serving as a proxy for Iran and of hijacking Lebanese policy-making.
Last month, Saudi Arabia cancelled a promised $3-billion grant to the Lebanese army for the purchase of French arms and a $1-billion grant to the country’s internal security forces -- a move backed by the GCC.
Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf States have gone so far as to warn their citizens against traveling to Lebanon and have called on their nationals living in the country to leave.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.