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Lebanon MPs re-elect Hezbollah ally Berri as speaker

Shiite politician Nabih Berri, a close ally of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, was re-elected as speaker of Lebanon’s parliament for the sixth time since 1992 on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The politician secured the backing of 98 out of 128 lawmakers. The new parliament was sitting for the first time since the May 6 general election, Lebanon’s first since 2009. Berri, 80, heads the Amal Movement and has been allied with Hezbollah since the end of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war. He was unopposed for the post, reserved for a Shiite under Lebanon’s power-sharing system. Outgoing Sunni Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, an opponent of Hezbollah, had declared support for his re-election. Hezbollah ally Elie Ferzli reportedly won at least half the votes, securing his election as deputy speaker. The post, which is reserved for a Greek Orthodox, has been held by an opponent of Hezbollah since 2005.