Franjieh Says 'Won't Withdraw' from Race although Aoun's Chances 'Stronger'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh stressed Monday that he will not withdraw from the presidential race although the chances of his electoral rival, Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun, seem to be “stronger” in the upcoming October 31 session.
“I will not withdraw from the presidential race and I will attend the electoral session and accept the result no matter what it might be,” Franjieh said in an interview on LBCI television.
“We don't have a problem in the election of General Aoun as president and he has the right to be in the race,” he added.
The Marada chief however lashed out at both Aoun and his new ally Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
“Since when the names of Dr. Geagea or General Aoun have been associated with a state of stability or prosperity? They have always been associated with a state of war, obstruction and criminality, and I'm not referring to Aoun by the last word,” he said.
Franjieh accuses Geagea of murdering his family during civil war.
Referring to the period that preceded ex-PM Saad Hariri's decision to shift his support from the Marada leader to Aoun, Franjieh said: “I told Hariri that the army command should not be against the resistance.”
“General Aoun could have communicated with us in a certain way that recognizes our presence and I would have withdrawn from the presidential race,” he added.
Maronite “Patriarch (Beshara) al-Rahi wants a president and Aoun's nomination conforms 100% with the National Pact. He is the strongest Christian candidate but he is not the only one,” Franjieh admitted.
“Everyone was betting that Hizbullah does not want a president but they have been proven wrong,” he noted.
Franjieh also revealed that “Hizbullah was counting on Aoun's withdrawal after my nomination by Hariri.”
“But Geagea's support for Aoun reversed the equation and led to Aoun's clinging to his nomination,” he added.
Franjieh also emphasized that a “frank friendship” still gathers him with Hariri and that the ex-PM was “honest” with him.
Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and Hizbullah, Aoun's Change and Reform bloc and some of their allies have been boycotting the parliament's electoral sessions, stripping them of the needed quorum.
Hariri had launched an initiative in late 2015 to nominate Franjieh for the presidency but his proposal was met with reservations from the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.
The supporters of Aoun's presidential bid have argued that he is more eligible than Franjieh to become president due to the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.