Between Berri and Geagea, vacuum protracts and hope wanes


Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said that Hezbollah and Amal are the ones who refused a third-man solution to the presidential crisis in Lebanon.

French President's Special Envoy to Lebanon Jean-Yves Le Drian had arrived Tuesday in Lebanon in a bid to break the presidential deadlock in the crisis-hit country.

He reportedly told his visitors that the presidential solution lies in choosing a third candidate and that the June 14 candidates, Jihad Azour and Suleiman Franjieh, must withdraw from the presidential race.

On June 14, lawmakers failed for the 12th time to elect a president as candidates Azour and Franjieh both failed to get across the line in the 128-seat parliament.

"The Axis of Resistance wants to know the identity of the president before the election session, and this is not possible," Geagea said Wednesday after meeting Le Drian.

"They did not accept a third-man solution, while we did," he added.

The winner needs two-thirds majority, or 86 votes from the 128 members of parliament -- but Hezbollah and its allies have posted spoilt ballots to disrupt previous votes.

Quorum has been lost before a second round of voting -- where the winner only requires 65 ballots -- has been able to go ahead.

Hezbollah and its allies adopted a similar tactic in the last presidential vote, a move that left Lebanon without a president for more than two years, until Michel Aoun's 2016 win.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has called for a dialogue to break the impasse. He insisted that only dialogue would solve the presidential crisis, while the LF refused a dialogue chaired by Berri.

The United States, France, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar, have called for both consultations and a third-man solution.

"We will not accept granting Speaker Berri powers that do not belong to him," Geagea said.

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