Last updated: 22 May, 2014

Lebanon presidential vote postponed indefinitely

Lebanon’s presidential vote was postponed indefinitely Thursday, with no agreement between two rival blocs, just three days away from the end of President Michel Sleiman’s mandate.

“Due to the lack of quorum, as 73 MPs (out of 128) were present, parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri announced that parliament will remain in session until the end of the presidential mandate, and if there are any developments, he will invite the deputies to vote,” said to a statement carried by the official National News Agency.

Should no president be chosen, the government will assume full executive powers — a situation Lebanon already faced in 1988 and 2007.

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.

Consensus on a candidate appears unlikely, with the conflict in neighbouring Syria exacerbating divisions in the country.

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

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.