Nabih Berri

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Nabih Berri
Nabih Berri.jpg
Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon
In office
20 October 1992 – present
President Elias Hrawi
Émile Lahoud
Michel Sleiman
Preceded by Hussein el-Husseini
Personal details
Born 28 January 1938 (age 76)
Bo, Sierra Leone
Nationality Lebanese
Political party Amal Movement
Spouse(s) Randa Berri
Religion Shia Islam

Nabih Berri (Arabic: نبيه بري‎; born 28 January 1938) is the Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon. He heads the Shi’a Amal Movement.[1][2]

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Early life and education[edit]

He was born in BoSierra Leone to Lebanese parents on 28 January 1938.[3] His father was involved in buying goods from the indigenous people of Sierra Leone for a large multi-national corporation.

Berri went to school in Tebnine and Ain Ebel in southern Lebanon, then continued his education in Bint Jbeil and Jaafariya supplementary schools in southern Lebanon and later studied at the Makassed and the Ecole de la Sagesse in Beirut. He obtained a law degree in 1963 from the Lebanese University, where he had served as the student body president, and became a lawyer at the Court of Appeals. He also graduated from Paris-Sorbonne University in France.[citation needed] During the 1960s, he joined the Arab Nationalist Movement.

Early career[edit]

During 1963, Berri was elected as president of the National Union of Lebanese Students, and participated to student and political conferences. During his early career he became a lawyer at the Court of Appeals. Berri wanted to ran for parliamentary seat on the list ofKamel Asaad, then speaker of the Lebanese parliament in the general elections of 1968 and 1972.[4] However, Asaad objected his candidacy.[4] In the early 1970s, Berri worked in Beirut as a lawyer for several companies. He also became a warlord during the civil war backed by Syria.[5]

In 1980, Berri was elected leader of the Amal Movement, and led it during the Lebanese civil war. Under his leadership, Amal gradually gained the identity of a conservative Shi’a movement.[6] During the war and under Berri’s leadership, Amal led the War of the Camps, in which several Palestinian refugee camps were besieged by Berri’s militia.[7] This subconflict resulted in 3,781 dead and 6,787 injured.[8]However, Lebanon’s Amnesty Law that excused all crimes perpetrated before March 28, 1991 has allowed Berri to avoid any type of punishment for his actions during the war. [9]

Berri also joined the National Unity government as minister of state for South Lebanon and reconstruction under Prime Minister Rashid Karami in May 1984.[10] He also served as the minister of housing and co-operatives.

Later political career[edit]

Berri again served as a cabinet minister from 1989 to 1992. He is reported to have the biggest influence in the Lebanese government formed after the Taif Accord.[11] He became elected speaker of the National Assembly on 20 November 1992 at the head of the “Liberation of the South Movement” list. On 8 September 1996, his list, the Liberation and Development, won the legislative elections and he was once again re-elected Speaker. In the general elections of 2000, he won the seat of Zahrani, the first district of south Lebanon.[12]

On 3 June 2003, Berri was elected President of the Arab Parliament, which he assumed on 1 March the following year. In the 2009 general elections, he also won a seat from Zahrani as part of the 8 March alliance list.[13]

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Lebanon

Currently Berri headed the list of “Resistance and Development” in the parliamentary elections that took place in southern Lebanon on 3 September 2000, which was won in full. He also headed the list of “Liberation” in the parliamentary elections that took place in southern Lebanon on 6 September 1992, which was won in full. The other lists he headed were “Liberation and Development” in the parliamentary elections on 8 September 1996, which was won in full, “Liberation and Development” in the parliamentary elections which took place in June 2005, which was won in full. Since 1992 he chairs the “Liberation and Development” parliamentary bloc.

Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon[edit]

He was elected to the Lebanese Parliament for the first time on 20 October 1992, during the Syrian presence in Lebanon, as he expectedly passed a law that allowed Rafik Hariri‘s Solidere to forcibly expropriate private property and real estate in downtown Beirut now worth tens of billions of USD. He was re-elected for a second time on 22 October 1996. He was elected to the same post three more times on 17 October 2000 unanimously (124 votes out of 126 votes), on 28 June 2005[14] and on 25 June 2009.

Arab World[edit]

Berri headed since 1999 Arab Parliamentary Committee. On 3 June 2003, he was elected president of the Arab Parliamentary Union and handed the presidency in Damascus on 3 January 2004 for a period of two years. He was elected president of the Council of the Parliamentary Union of the Member States of the

Corruption[edit]

During his tenure as speaker of the Lebanese parliament, Berri is estimated to have gathered a fortune of over USD 2 Billion.[15]

Among the earliest examples of Berri’s corruption early in his tenure as speaker of parliament was a coastal motorway in southern Lebanon which was overpriced by three digit million USD sum, and whose contract was won by a firm run by Berri’s wife, Randa Assi.[16][17]

He was considered by Rafik Hariri to be “irredeemably corrupt and unreliable”, as well as an opportunist,[18] and is thought to maintain his support base through access to state funds.

Berri’s current wife Randa’s sister, Samira Assi, is said to have made a fortune by getting a contract from Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to print one million copies of Gaddafi’s “Green Book”.[19] Assi’s deals are seen as highly controversial, since the founder of theAmal MovementMusa al-Sadr, is known to have been disappeared on the orders of Gaddafi himself.

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