Jumblat Urges Christians Not to Waste Historic Opportunities but Says No President for Now

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat has advised Christian parties not to waste historic opportunities and to agree on a consensual candidate other than Free Patriotic Movement chief Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are in a dispute over the situation in Yemen, so there won't be any mediator to help Lebanese MPs elect a new president, Jumblat said in remarks published on Tuesday.

“That's why my advice to Christian parties is to stop wasting historic opportunities,” the MP told al-Akhbar newspaper. “They are not yet convinced on the importance of a consensual candidate other than Michel Aoun and Samir Geagea.”

Jumblat has backed the candidacy of Aley MP Henri Helou, saying Lebanon needs a centrist president. But the rivalry between Aoun, who heads the Change and Reform bloc, and Geagea has caused a vacuum at Baabda Palace.

MPs from Aoun's bloc in addition to Hizbullah and other March 8 alliance lawmakers have been boycotting parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a new head of state since Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May last year.

Asked whether he thought that the Christians were responsible for the vacuum, Jumblat said: “Yes, although they will not like what I am saying.”

“They haven't yet realized the size of the loss … Some leaders are dreaming to become presidents although huge obstacles are standing in their way for the presidency,” he added.

“The majority of the political parties have not yet understood that there is no president for the time being,” the lawmaker told al-Akhbar.

Jumblat also advised Lebanese officials to overcome their “selfishness” because of fears that the violence in neighboring countries, mainly Syria, would spread to Lebanon.

“The Islamic State group is in Palmyra, which means (at Lebanon's) doorsteps at a time when we are drowning like the Tower of Babel,” he warned.

In May, the IS seized Iraq's Anbar capital Ramadi and captured Palmyra in Syria. Such a move signaled its most significant victories in almost a year.



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