Dialogue alone brings 86 representatives to elect the president

Nicolas Nassif wrote in “Al-Akhbar”: Whenever an initiative is proposed by a team, it is just measured against Berri’s initiative for dialogue: how close it is to it or how far it is from it. Whenever a new initiative appears, its first door is always Ain al-Tineh. In this regard, the President of the Council has no choice but to confirm his adherence to his own initiative, as it is the only way to elect the president.

In the past few hours, Berri was asked about his position on the successive initiatives until the last, and he commented: “The dialogue that I call for is the one that brings about the new president. Without dialogue, even if they call it consultation, two-thirds of the Council will not be available to attend the session, regardless of the sessions. Two-thirds is binding for the session to be held and the first session to vote, as well as for the following sessions to be held, even if the president wins an absolute majority. A President of the Republic will not be elected without at least 86 representatives present. I agreed in the past with Patriarch (the late Mar Nasrallah Boutros) Sfeir that the president should be elected by two-thirds of the audience in order not to compromise his charter, and so that one sect does not dominate another or to its detriment by electing him. “Not once in the history of the Lebanese presidential elections has a session been held in which there were not two-thirds of the representatives, whether the president was elected in the first, second, or subsequent session.”
Berri adds: “Two guarantees that I expect to emerge from the dialogue that I am calling for for seven days – and it may end in two days – in order to achieve general consensus, are the presence of at least 86 representatives and, accordingly, the participation of the council blocs and their pledge not to leave the hall, and an agreement to go to the election session with one candidate or A list of two, three or four candidates, and we then congratulate the winner. Dialogue is the political cover for the constitutional quorum of the session. Otherwise, without prior dialogue, the election session will only be like the one we conducted 12 times. First round, then the quorum is lost. When the will to elect is present after consensus, we will not need more than the third or fourth round as a maximum to elect the president.”
Berri separates sessions into successive sessions and one session into successive sessions: “Every session that does not end with the election of the president, I will close its minutes and call at a later date for another session, whatever the voting sessions require. I will only agree to a maximum of four voting sessions. What happened in the previous sessions will be repeated now and later until we reach agreement. Closing the minutes is inevitable and necessary to preserve the right of the Council to meet and legislate, and to prevent its disruption due to the inability to elect a President of the Republic.
What the Speaker of Parliament does not find justification for is the negative position of the opposition blocs, whether in his call for dialogue or their denial of him and his ally Hezbollah’s candidacy of Franjieh for the presidency: “We have our candidate, who is Maronite, and there is no need to introduce him, and they could have one or more candidates and we will then go to a session.” Election. Instead of asking them to withdraw Franjieh’s candidacy – something they have no right to demand – they should go to the session with one or more candidates. Reaching the list in which the names of all candidates are included, with the approval of all parties, will not see the light without dialogue.
However, Franjieh dragged the presidential election to an uncalculated position. It has no connection to the dialogue called for by the Council President, nor to any of the outcomes called for by the circulating initiatives. The simplest thing to say about what he proposed on the anniversary of the Ehden massacre is that he brought the two sides of the conflict into direct confrontation:
1 – For the first time, in an unprompted manner, he expresses his determination to run his candidacy campaign, not being satisfied with what his allies Berri and Hezbollah are doing, who have been and are still fighting since March 2023 the battle to bring him to the presidency. This time, he is campaigning with a Maronite Christian facade, not a Shiite banner to rely on. He goes to his Maronite opponents and competitors directly without involving the Shiite duo in a Maronite-Maronite dispute over power.
2 – His praise of Geagea, whether manipulative or serious, and his nomination to compete with him in the merits are nothing but intentional provocation of Basil, confirming their rivalry, and playing on the string of Basil-Geagea’s animosity. To say that the second, not the first, is his true and reliable opponent, worthy of confrontation, and the most representative of Christians, even though he is the enemy of his past and present. Franjieh takes into account the decline of the Free Patriotic Movement bloc with the exit of three representatives from it so far, namely the Sunni Muhammad Yahya and the Armenian George Bushkian, who will join within days the bloc of MP Tony Franjieh and the Orthodox Elias Bou Saab, which makes Geagea’s bloc ahead of it in terms of the number of its members. Add its previous lead in Christian preferential votes in the 2022 elections.
3 – What Geagea did not do in the current election, even though he did it in the session of April 23, 2014 by announcing his candidacy along with a program, which Franjieh provided for him in a way that was more difficult for Geagea than his nomination: his challenge to him to run at a time when the head of the Lebanese Forces Party presents himself as a leader. The Christian opposition, the first enemy of Hezbollah, and the loudest opposition to the Speaker of Parliament, in order for Franjieh to conclude that he is more worthy of competing with him. What is the implicit challenge? Franjieh Geagea’s demonstration that he is the weakest of the supposed candidates due to his inevitable lack of the allies he used to have between the years 2005 and 2016: Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Sunnis criticize him for attacking him, and Walid Jumblatt’s Druze are wary of him. Add the difficulty of finding an intersection similar to the one given for the nomination of former Minister Jihad Azour.
4 – Because Geagea describes him as Hezbollah’s candidate, he nominates Frangieh, the party’s enemy, and tells him on the anniversary of the killing of his family on June 13, whose rival is accused of the crime, that they alone are capable of ensuring that two-thirds meet in the session to then go to the election. What this nomination did not say was the cancellation of other possible names, the first of which was the Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun.


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