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The nomination of Diab from the other side of the camera.

Summary: Hemmed into the corner of the presidential palace's grand entrance hall by red velvet ropes, journalists jostled to ask questions and get their quotes as MPs announced their candidate to be Lebanon's next premier Thursday.

BAABDA, Lebanon: Hemmed into the corner of the presidential palace's grand entrance hall by red velvet ropes, journalists jostled to ask questions and get their quotes as MPs announced their candidate to be Lebanon's next premier Thursday. At 10 a.m. Thursday, TV, radio and print reporters gathered at Baabda Palace to witness the results of binding parliamentary consultations overseen by President Michel Aoun, 51 days after Saad Hariri resigned as prime minister on Oct. 29.

The consultation meetings began with former prime ministers Saad Hariri, Tammam Salam, Najib Mikati and Deputy Parliament Speaker Elie Ferzli and continued with parliamentary blocs and independent MPs. Hariri grinned broadly as he left his meeting, simply saying, "May God bring you all success."

Every 15 minutes or so, reporters' eyes and ears perked up as MPs emerged from their talks with Aoun. Photographers dashed from one side of the cramped journalists' area to the other as MPs walked out, cameras flashing and shutters clicking.

Presidency staff and journalists interacted like school teachers and misbehaving pupils, as reporters were scolded for asking too many questions and cameramen for chatting too loudly in the background.

TV correspondents spun around to berate photographers for getting in the way, shouting, "Get out of my frame! I'm going live!"

With Christmas just around the corner, a giant tree and extravagant nativity scene filled the center of the entrance hall, blocking the view of the politicians as they entered, much to the frustration of photographers trying to get the perfect shot.

During the long lunch break between the appearances of the Kataeb Party and the Democratic Gathering bloc, journalists headed to small rooms to send their reports.

Just like the discussions that take place on Twitter and between friends, family and colleagues, reporters held their own debates on the day's developments. Disputes, some of which grew heated, broke out over how many votes each candidate got, what time the next consultations would take place and even the names of lesser-known MPs.

In one touching moment, MP Alain Aoun made a beeline for journalists as he entered, to accept congratulations on the news of his newborn daughter. When asked which candidate his bloc would nominate, Aoun simply replied: "We haven't even named our baby yet."

As time went on, and former Education Minister Hassan Diab gained more and more votes, comments like "It's over now" or "It stopped being interesting" were whispered around the room.

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Author:Emily Lewis
Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Dec 20, 2019
Words:457
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