Officials Hail Nasrallah's 'Positive, Consensual' Ashura Speech

Lebanese officials have welcomed Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's speech amid hopes that it would lead to dialogue among the country's rival parties.

“The country needs positive rhetoric more than any other time and this is what I saw in Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's” speech, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat told As Safir daily published on Tuesday.

The Hizbullah secretary-general sent “positive signs, which I hope would lead to constructive dialogue to protect Lebanon,” said Jumblat.

During a speech marking the tenth night of Ashura in Beirut's southern suburbs on Monday, Nasrallah lauded al-Mustaqbal movement's stance on the recent deadly clashes between the army and Islamist gunmen in the northern city of Tripoli and nearby areas.

He said the national stances of al-Mustaqbal and Sunni leaders spared Lebanon “a big disaster.”

“We might have very different viewpoints on the regional affairs and things might reach the extent of rivalry and animosity, but our morals oblige us to take the right and patriotic stance and to thank them and appreciate them despite our differences,” added Nasrallah, expressing willingness to engage in “dialogue” with al-Mustaqbal.

He also announced for the first time that Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun is Hizbullah’s presidential candidate.

Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora preferred to wait until he reads the speech, to comment on it, As Safir said.

But an official close to Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, the March 14 alliance's presidential candidate, described Nasrallah's speech as “consensual and not aggressive.”

Nasrallah opened the dialogue door to the presidency and announced on behalf of the March 8 alliance that its candidate is Aoun, said the official, who was not identified.

This means that the Hizbullah leader extended his hand to the March 14 alliance to hold dialogue on a compromise candidate, he said.

“If Nasrallah insisted on backing Aoun's candidacy, then he should stop paralyzing the parliament and head to the legislature to elect Aoun,” he said about Hizbullah MPs.

The Baabda Palace has been vacant since the expiry of President Michel Suleiman's term in May. The rival MPs failed to elect a new head of state over their differences on a compromise candidate.

The majority of the March 8 camp's lawmakers have boycotted the sessions over their claim that there should be consensus on a candidate first. But their boycott was a clear sign of their rejection of Geagea's candidacy.



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