Geagea Says Hizbullah, Iran Don't Want Aoun as President, Urges Hariri to Endorse General's Bid

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea stressed Thursday that Hizbullah and Iran do not want the election of Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun as president, while calling on al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri to back Aoun's nomination in order to “embarrass” Hizbullah.

“General Aoun is less committed to March 8 than (Marada Movement chief) MP Suleiman Franjieh and his stances are flexible, while MP Suleiman Franjieh's stances have been clear until the moment,” said Geagea during an interview on LBCI TV to explain why he has decided to endorse the nomination of Aoun – his long-time Christian rival.

“It was not possible to achieve a certain breakthrough in the presidential issue without endorsing General Aoun's nomination,” he added.

“If Saad Hariri wants to make a heroic act for Lebanon, let him endorse General Aoun's nomination,” Geagea said.

Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and the FPM, Hizbullah and some of their allies have been boycotting the electoral sessions.

Hariri launched late in 2015 a proposal to nominate Franjieh for the presidency but his suggestion was rejected by the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.

Hizbullah and the FPM, as well as Geagea, have argued that Aoun is more eligible than Franjieh to become president given the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.

“It is not my goal to embarrass Hariri over the presidential issue. If Saad Hariri nominates Aoun, he would embarrass Hizbullah and leave it with no other options,” Geagea told LBCI.

Noting that Aoun's election as president would be a “major victory” for him, the LF leader emphasized that If Hizbullah was “serious” about supporting Aoun's nomination, “the General would have been in Baabda today not in Rabieh.”

“Aoun is not attending the sessions because he is negotiating with Hizbullah over a certain issue,” Geagea revealed.

He also underlined that there is no “Saudi veto” against Aoun and that Hariri has stressed in an interview that he “does not have a veto on Aoun.”

Turning to the Tehran's stance, Geagea added: “The Iranian ambassador told Western diplomats to ask the Vatican to convince Aoun to withdraw his nomination so that the presidential election can be held.”

“Hizbullah does not want a serious president because it does not want a strong republic,” Geagea went on to say.


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