Listen to the article

The saga of the presidential election in Lebanon keeps unfolding with a series of initiatives that have yet to translate into tangible outcomes. The five-nation Quintet Committee (France, US, Qatar, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) is in full swing, in parallel to Qatar’s own initiative and the efforts of the French presidential envoy, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Adding to that is the initiative of the National Moderation bloc and that of the Democratic Gathering bloc, which are still trying to make their way. In parallel, the Strong Republic bloc has launched in the last few days an initiative of its own. In this context, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Gebran Bassil, and FPM MPs are reaching out to political leaders and parties to put forward this latest plan of action.

Amidst a series of initiatives and diplomatic efforts, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri is adamantly refusing to convene a new parliamentary session for the election of a president of the Republic, the last one dating back to June 14, 2023. Nearly one year later, all the initiatives for electing a president have failed to secure the necessary commitment from the Shiite duo Amal-Hezbollah and their allies to ensure the required quorum to hold the electoral session. None of the initiatives succeeded in modifying Berri’s stance and determination to convene a dialogue session or consultation, and be the one leading it.

On Monday, a meeting is set to take place at the Kataeb headquarters between the opposition and members of the FPM’s Strong Republic bloc. The main objective of the meeting, which will include representatives from the Lebanese Forces (LF), is to review Bassil’s initiative. However, the participants will highlight that the issue of dialogue and consultation requested by Berri — which will probably be bypassed by Bassil’s initiative — is still problematic for the LF. In this context, how can the speaker of Parliament, a main party in the crisis, summon and preside over such an initiative without meeting the opposition halfway? The idea here would be to let go of Hezbollah’s candidate, Marada leader Seiman Frangieh.

But sources within the LF indicated that there has been no shift in Hezbollah’s or Nabih Berri’s stance regarding the presidential dossier. The speaker of Parliament is keen on securing a political win by orchestrating a dialogue with the opposition and other political parties on his terms, without any guarantee that this dialogue will culminate in the election of a president.