Franjieh Rejects President with No 'Christian Legitimacy', Rules Out Election of 'Centrist'

Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh on Sunday said he rejects the election of any president who does not enjoy so-called “Christian legitimacy,” noting that he prefers continued vacuum at the Baabda Palace over the election of a “centrist president.”

“There is nothing new in the issue of the presidency and the circumstances are not ripe for the election of a president,” Franjieh said in an interview on al-Jadeed television.

The country's top Christian post has been vacant since May 25 although the parliament has held 15 electoral sessions. Fourteen of the sessions lacked the needed quorum for voting due to a boycott by the Free Patriotic Movement and Hizbullah.

“I prefer vacuum over a weak president. A strong president is not necessarily one of the current top leaders but he must enjoy Christian legitimacy … We won't accept a president who does not have Christian legitimacy,” Franjieh added.

“There won't be consensus over a centrist president. If the election of a centrist was possible, we would not be going through vacuum now,” the Marada leader stated.

In response to a question, Franjieh said “a local agreement would speed up the election of a president and a foreign agreement would encourage this election.”

“We do not want a president who would lead us into the abyss and we won't elect a president who is not better than his predecessor,” said Franjieh.

Playing down concerns that presidential void has a negative impact on the country, Franjieh added: “As a Christian, how does presidential vacuum harm me? What is the use of a president without powers? What is the use of a president who does not reflect popular representation? Vacuum does not scare us.”

The northern leader reiterated that he will not nominate himself for the presidency unless his ally Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun decides to withdraw from the race.

“As long as he keeps his nomination, I will stand by him and support him unconditionally,” Franjieh said.

“If the General pulls out, it would be my right to announce my candidacy,” he added.

Franjieh, however, rejected a recent proposal by Aoun on the direct election of the president by the people.

“General Aoun believes that the president must not be imposed on Christians. I do not think that his proposal would lead to this result,” he explained.

Asked about remarks by Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi that politicians receive orders from foreign powers, Franjieh said: “I will not respond to His Eminence but I do not approve of his remarks and I don't consider myself one of those he referred to.”

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