Lebanese parliament re-elects Hezbollah ally Nabih Berri as speaker

BEIRUT - Shi'ite 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, securing 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. After his re-election as speaker, Berri called for a new government to be formed as soon as possible.

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 Shi'ite under Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system. Outgoing Sunni prime minister Saad al-Hariri, an opponent of Hezbollah, had declared support for his re-election.

Berri's office issued a statement urging supporters to avoid celebratory gunfire.

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