Aoun Links Cabinet with Presidential Elections, Says he Nominates Geagea

Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun has made a clear connection between the formation of a new government and the election of a president which he said should garner a huge support by the rival political parties.

Aoun told An Nahar daily in an interview published on Saturday that he agreed with Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea on the need for a strong president.

Geagea “considers himself strong. So I nominate him,” Aoun said mockingly.

He reiterated that he wasn't a candidate for the presidency but “he wouldn't give up his tasks if decision-makers wanted” him to reach the country's top post.

Asked about a possible vacuum if parliament failed to elect a new president, Aoun said: “The extension of (President Michel Suleiman's) mandate means vacuum.”

“We are living in (a state of) vacuum and we are afraid of it. Through the extension, we would be extending vacuum,” he warned.

Suleiman's six-year term ends in May 2014. But there are fears that differences and lack of consensus among rival political parties would prevent the parliament from meeting and would lead to a vacuum in the presidency.

Aoun, who is also the head of the parliamentary Change and Reform bloc, stressed that the solution to the crisis would come through the formation of the new cabinet.

“If there was no government, there would be no presidential elections,” he told An Nahar.

Aoun disagreed with his ally Marada leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, who has recently called for the election of a new president by simple majority.

“Simple majority is dangerous. The president should garner a bigger understanding” among the rival parliamentary blocs and political parties, he said.

“The new cabinet is not being formed because there are connections with abroad,” he said. “Had there been independent (politicians), they would have taken the decision that conforms with Lebanese interests.”

Aoun renewed his criticism of Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati over his policies in the resigned cabinet.

The secretary-general of the executive authority, Suhail Bouji, is “the ruler” and gives his “instructions,” Aoun said.

On Tuesday, the FPM chief called on Miqati to “leave the Grand Serail.”

He “is disassociating himself from local events, and many things are taking place after securing the signature of the cabinet's secretary-general Suhail Bouji and President Michel Suleiman,” Aoun said.

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