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Lebanon's Berri re-elected for sixth term as parliament speaker

Nabih Berri has held his seat for 26 years [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 May, 2018

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Nabih Berri, who is now 80, has been Lebanon's parliamentary speaker since 1992

Lebanese lawmakers have overwhelmingly re-elected the country's longtime parliament speaker to the post, giving the 80-year-old monopoly of the office for three decades.

The 128-seat assembly voted 98 in favour of Nabih Berri, with 29 blank ballots and one that was annulled. The newly elected parliament convened Wednesday for the first time after 6 May nationwide balloting. It's Berri's sixth consecutive term; he ran unchallenged.

"I would like to extend my deepest thanks to my fellow MPs for trusting me with the duty of heading this parliament for a sixth consecutive time," Berri said during his speech subsequent to his re-election. 

The country's first parliamentary elections in nine years ended years of political stalemate over a new election law and repeated extension of the parliament's terms.

The re-election of Berri - an ally of the Hizballah group who has held the post since 1992 - reflects Lebanon's entrenched sectarian-based political system which has held despite rising discontent.

Outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri called him a "national symbol".

A week after a disastrous showing in the country's first general election in almost a decade, three key aides of Hariri were fired or resigned.

Hariri's Future Movement lost a third of its seats in the 6 May vote, ceding ground to its Christian former allies and parties on the other side of Lebanon's political divide, including the Shia Hizballah movement.

The premier's chief of staff, his cousin Nader Hariri, "resigned from all his functions", according to a statement late on Saturday, without specifying a reason.

Hariri blamed some of the movement's losses on Lebanon's new electoral law, but admitted he and his party had "betted on a better result".

 

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