The National Moderation parliamentary bloc initiative is hanging by a thread. The MPs are set to meet with the ambassadors of the Quintet committee this afternoon at their headquarters in Saifi to try to find common grounds for a potential breach in the deadlock in the presidential election.

“It’s our last opportunity, and regardless of the outcome, we will issue a clear statement detailing all the challenges we’ve faced,” said MP Sajih Attieh to This Is Beirut.

Attieh emphasized that their initiative is still active and that they are holding a “pivotal meeting” today with the ambassadors of the Quintet Committee (United States, France, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar), in which they will address key issues and explore potential solutions. He mentioned that they still have several proposals to discuss with the ambassadors.

The National Moderation bloc MP further clarified that the main issue revolves around the form that the informal discussions in Parliament are going to take. It includes, he added, determining who will be chairing the session, whether it’s Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri or someone else, and the specifics of the meeting invitation. He noted that Hezbollah is aligned with Berri’s stance which entails calling for a dialogue over the presidential issue, while the opposition raises objections about such a procedure.

One of the members of the bloc, Walid Baarini, stated in a radio interview on Wednesday morning that his bloc is close to declaring the end of its initiative to resolve the deadlock in the presidential election. However, Attieh seems to be more optimistic, explaining to This Is Beirut that what was meant is that the initiative has reached its “final stage.”

“We have a two-week window,” Attieh added, “and if we, along with the Quintet, fail to find a solution, we cannot afford to keep the Lebanese people waiting. This is crucial for our dignity, the nation and the people alike. It’s our last opportunity, and regardless of the outcome, we will issue a comprehensive statement detailing all the challenges we faced and who bears responsibility from the beginning until now.”

In the weeks leading up to Ramadan, the bloc toured the main political parties represented in Parliament in an attempt to find common grounds around an initiative to encourage them to hold informal discussions on the presidential election, before calling on the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, to convene an electoral session with successive rounds, until a president is elected.

Several political leaders, including the Lebanese Forces and the Kataeb, reacted positively to this initiative, even though they didn’t really believe in it. And they ended up being right, due to the hardening of Hezbollah’s position, which recently informed a delegation from the Moderation bloc that any dialogue on the presidential election, informal or otherwise, should be chaired by Berri. This is rejected by the opposition, which assumes that the role of the Speaker of Parliament is to convene a parliamentary meeting to elect a president, in strict application of the relevant text of the Constitution.

Almost 18 months after Lebanon’s former head of state Michel Aoun left the presidential palace in Baabda, the country is still facing a resounding deadlock in parallel with the acute situation of a country entrenched in a more than four-year economic crisis, with only a caretaker government and further dragged by Iran-backed Hezbollah into the Israel-Gaza war.

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