Geagea Balances between Factors Linked to Candidacy, Straightening Political Situation

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has said that the decision to announce his candidacy for the presidency lied on several factors but the presidential elections should first be preceded by straightening the country's political situation.

“We will discuss it with our allies and inside the LF executive authority at the appropriate time although my decision is linked to a group of factors that will determine if I will be a candidate or not,” Geagea told several local dailies in interviews published on Thursday.

But Lebanon's political life should first return to its normal situation and the rest will be just details, he said.

“The essential for me is to hold the presidential elections on time in accordance to constitutional and democratic principles,” Geagea said.

“Any person can announce his candidacy, propose his plan and carry out his electoral campaign. Then, all lawmakers should perform their duties and participate in a session to avoid lack of quorum,” he added.

The LF chief told the newspapers that he would congratulate the person that the parliament chose irrespective of his feelings towards him.

“This is the normal constitutional path that we should reconsider without waiting a go-ahead from abroad or an internal precondition for choosing a president,” he said.

Asked whether LF MPs would vote for their rival Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun if he announced his candidacy, Geagea said: “Of course not … Aoun has a political plan that fully contradicts with ours.”

Geagea stressed that the March 14 alliance hasn't yet agreed on a candidate. But said there was a 99 percent chance to agree on a name.

“The strong president has a clear plan,” he said.

Asked about electing a former army chief, Geagea said such a case is “exceptional with all due respect and appreciation to Gen. Jean Qahwaji.”

President Michel Suleiman was army chief when he was elected for a six-year term to the country's top post.

Geagea called for the swift formation of a new government “because the situation in the country is very awful.”

“The cabinet will be formed despite all the challenges and obstacles that we are facing before the end of Suleiman's term” in May 2014, he said.

The LF chief expected the government to see light in the first two months of 2014.

But he reiterated his rejection to give the March 8 and March 14 alliances 9 ministers each and granting centrists 6 ministers in a 24-member cabinet.

“This will burn us,” he told the dailies.

In response to Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's remarks that the March 14 camp would regret the rejection of the 9-9-6 formula, Geagea said: “We won't regret the choices we make although we could win or lose.”

In a statement he issued later Thursday, Geagea lauded Suleiman for responding to Nasrallah's latest accusations that Saudi Arabia was behind the twin suicide bombings that targeted the Iranian Embassy last month.

Suleiman on Wednesday slammed the criticism directed by Nasrallah against Riyadh.

Without mentioning him, the president said: “We should not ruin Lebanon's relations with Saudi Arabia by making baseless accusations against it.”

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