Lebanese Parliament Speaker Says No Presidential Election Without IMF Laws

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Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri holds a legislative session in Beirut, Lebanon on July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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BEIRUT, July 30 (Reuters) – Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said on Saturday he would not convene a session to elect a new president until lawmakers passed reforms that set the stage for a bailout of the International Monetary Fund (IMF ) are.

A deal with the IMF is seen as the only way for Lebanon to recover from a financial crisis that has plunged the country into its most destabilizing crisis since the 1975-90 civil war.

President Michel Aoun‘s six-year term ends on October 31 and leaders have expressed concern that a successor will not be found – and warned of an even greater institutional deadlock as Lebanon has also been without a fully functioning government since May.

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“I will not call a presidential election until the reform laws requested by the IMF are passed,” Berri said during a meeting with journalists at his Beirut residence, in comments confirmed by his office to Reuters.

He said parliament should work to pass the reform laws in August, citing the urgent need for the measures.

Berri, who has held office for nearly three decades, said Friday it would take a “miracle” for a government to be formed soon. He didn’t elaborate.

Under the Constitution, the President issues the decree appointing a new Prime Minister based on mandatory consultations with MPs and must co-sign the formation of a new cabinet.

In April, Lebanon reached a staff-level deal with the IMF for a $3 billion bailout, but full agreement is conditional on passage of legislation including capital controls, bank restructuring laws and the 2022 budget.

The Lebanese Constitution states that the Speaker must convene Parliament “at least one month and at most two months before the end of the term of office of the President of the Republic”.

Otherwise, the chamber meets automatically on the 10th day before the end of the term, the constitution states.

Aoun came to power after a 29-month presidential vacuum in which parliament failed to agree on who should be elected president. The standoff ended in a series of deals that secured victory for Aoun and his powerful Iran-backed ally Hezbollah.

Aoun is limited to one term and major political parties have not announced an agreement on his successor.

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Reporting by Timour Azhari Edited by Helen Popper

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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