Last updated: 15 May, 2014

Lebanon parliament fails again to meet for president vote

Lebanon’s parliament on Thursday again failed to meet to vote on a new president, after the Hezbollah-led bloc boycotted the session leaving it without a quorum.

It was the fourth time that the assembly has failed to achieve a quorum to vote on a replacement for President Michel Sleiman, whose terms expires on May 25.

“Due to the lack of a quorum, parliament speaker Nabih Berri has postponed today’s session to elect the president of the republic to noon on Thursday, May 22,” Berri said in a statement.

The latest postponement raises the real spectre that Sleiman will vacate the presidency with no candidate chosen to replace him.

The country’s two main blocs, one led by the Hezbollah movement, the other by Saad Hariri, the son of assassinated prime minister Rafiq Hariri, have failed to come to a consensus on a replacement.

Hariri’s bloc has backed a candidate that Hezbollah’s has opposed without proposing their own alternative.

By law, if no president has been chosen by the last 10 days of the incumbent’s mandate, parliament cannot meet for legislative sessions except to elect a new president.

That means, starting on Thursday, legislative action will grind to a halt.

And consensus on a candidate appears unlikely, with the conflict in neighbouring Syria exacerbating existing splits in the country.

Hezbollah backs Syria’s regime, while the March 14 bloc largely backs the uprising next door.

Damascus dominated Lebanon for nearly 30 years until 2005, and still exerts significant influence over the Mediterranean country through Hezbollah, which is also a close ally of Iran.