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Middle East
Berri re-elected as Lebanon speaker
Amal leader to serve fifth term after backing from politicians of rival coalition.
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2009 15:39 GMT
Celebratory gunfire and fireworks were heard after Berri's re-election was announced [AFP]

Nabih Berri, the leader of the Shia Muslim Amal movement, has been re-elected for a fifth term as the speaker of Lebanon's parliament.

Berri gained 90 votes in the 128-seat parliament as MPs met on Thursday for the first time since a general election on June 7.

Celebratory gunfire and fireworks were heard on the streets of Lebanon following the vote.

"I call on the Lebanese and on myself to benefit from favourable regional and international developments in order to consolidate peace and stability in Lebanon," Berri said after the result was announced.

"This requires us to facilitate the establishment of a national government," he said.

Berri was the only candidate for the position, which must be held by a Shia Muslim under the constitution, sharing the main political posts between Lebanon's main religious groups.

'Political trade-off'

Saad al-Hariri, the Sunni Muslim leader of the rival March 14 parliamentary bloc, was one of the politicians who backed Berri's return for a 17th year as speaker.

Speaking after a meeting with Berri on Wednesday, he said that voting for the Amal leader was a decision that would "strengthen national unity and preserve civil peace".

Hariri is expected to be named as Lebanon's next prime minister.

"This is part of the political trade-off and this is usually equated with what we call the viability of social peace and political concord," Charles Chartouni of Georgetown University told Al Jazeera.

March 14 held on to its parliamentary majority in a general election on June 7, defeating an opposition alliance that included Berri's Amal and the Hezbollah movement, as well as other parties.

Berri was accused of paralysing the previous government for 18 months after five Shia ministers resigned from cabinet in November 2006.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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