Berri appointed as Lebanese speaker

June 26, 2009 at 3:28 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, June 26 (UPI) -- Lebanese lawmakers elected Nabih Berri to his fifth term as speaker of parliament as the new government in Beirut takes shape.

Lawmakers this week called for nominations for the next speaker for the Thursday session. The Lebanese Daily Star reports Berri ran unopposed for a fifth term as speaker.

Saad Hariri, the son of slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, appears set to take office as the next prime minister as well.

The confessional political system in Lebanon requires a Maronite Christian president, a Sunni prime minister and a Shiite speaker of parliament.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman was elected in 2008 on a non-renewable six-year term.

Berri, a strong ally of Syria, leads the predominately Shiite Amal Movement, which along with Hezbollah and other opposition groups, forms the March 8 coalition.

March 8 lost out to the Hariri's Western-backed March 14 slate in the June 7 parliamentary elections.

Analysts had expected Beirut would have a difficult time forming a unity government in the wake of the June 7 elections, though Suleiman has pledged haste.

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