The Daily Star — BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri Wednesday said he will not vote for Free Patriotic Movement founder Michel Aoun in the upcoming parliamentary session to elect a president, although he will congratulate him if he wins.
“I confirm that I will take part in the session and will vote against Aoun, however I will be the first well-wisher [if he wins],” Berri said in remarks prior to a rare legislative meeting.
He dismissed claims that he was impeding efforts to fill the country’s top post, which has been vacant since Michel Sleiman’s tenure ended in May 2014.
“If I wanted obstruction I would not have participated in all sessions to elect a president,” he said.
Berri, who is also head of the Amal Movement, added that he has started writing his congratulation speech for the winning candidate.
Lawmakers have failed 45 times to elect a new head of state due to an ongoing boycott by the FPM and its allies, including Hezbollah.
Marada Movement Sleiman Frangieh, the Aoun’s main rival for the presidency, is backed by Berri, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, and was originally backed by Future Movement chief Saad Hariri.
But Hariri Tuesday informed members of his party of his decision to endorse Aoun for the presidency.
Aoun is also supported by Hezbollah and some of its March 8 allies, as well as the Lebanese Forces.
While Hariri’s endorsement will put an end to the uncertainty over the Future bloc’s position on the presidency, it is unlikely to lead to the election of Aoun at the Parliament session set for Oct. 31 due to strong opposition by Berri, who favors Frangieh.
Source: The Daily Star