The longtime Lebanese speaker has been re-elected to the post despite crises

BEIRUT (AP) – Longtime Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Beri, who has held the post for 30 years, has been re-elected.

BEIRUT (AP) – Longtime Lebanese parliament speaker Nabih Beri, who has held the post for 30 years, was re-elected on Tuesday for a seventh four-year term with a small majority. His re-election was virtually guaranteed, despite more than a dozen new lawmakers gaining seats on the reform platform.

The introduction of the new legislature comes at a time when Lebanon remains in the grip of the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, rooted in decades of corruption and mismanagement by the ruling class that has ruled the country since the end of the civil war. .

For most Lebanese, the 84-year-old Berry is a symbol of this entrenched sectarian political system and ruling class that continues to hold on despite growing discontent and new lawmakers who are set on reforms to get seats.

The new parliament, elected on May 15, is deeply divided without a coalition, which has a majority of seats in the 128-member legislature. The Hezbollah militant group and its allies have lost the majority they have held since 2018 and now rank 61st – four less than the absolute majority.

The 128-seat assembly voted 65 for Berry, while 23 ballots were blank and 40 were annulled.

13 independent candidates nominated by the 2019 protest movement and some Christian parties in parliament have said they will not vote for Berry, leaving him with much less support, mostly from Shiite parties belonging to the Hezbollah-led coalition.

Mighty Berry heads Shiite Muslim militia Amal and was the only candidate for the post of speaker held by a Shiite under a power-sharing agreement in Lebanon.

In the run-up to the session, some independent and new lawmakers gathered near the port of Beirut – the site of a mass explosion in August 2020 that killed more than 200 people – and met with the families of the victims of the blast. After the meeting, they marched to parliament amid hundreds of supporters chanting “brands,” a revolution in Arabic.

The investigation into the explosion at the port, which exploded hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate, which was stored improperly, was stopped for several months amid legal disputes between officials accused by the investigating judge.

“Beirut has a right to know who killed her,” said independent lawmaker Yasin Yasin, citing a failed investigation.

The presence of independent legislators in the legislature is a major achievement – they went to the polls in fragments and faced intimidation and threats from entrenched major parties.

This sends a strong message to politicians who have held on for decades and continue to do so despite the economic downturn that has impoverished Lebanon and caused the biggest wave of emigration since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Tuesday’s session is expected to reflect the divisions of the legislature between lawmakers in favor of and against Hezbollah, who are likely to find it difficult to work together to form a new government and carry out much-needed reforms.

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