Mustaqbal Says Aoun 'Still Dreaming' of Presidency as FPM Says His Chances Surging

Mustaqbal bloc MPs have noted that Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun can only “dream” of being elected president, although FPM officials are saying that the presidential chances of the Change and Reform bloc chief are surging.

“Aoun is still dreaming of becoming president,” Mustaqbal bloc MP Ahmed Fatfat told al-Joumhouria newspaper in remarks published Saturday.

“At the personal level, we do not have a problem with Aoun, but it is out of the question to endorse him for the presidency for reasons related to his political course,” Fatfat added.

“When he rose to power in 1989 and 1990 we witnessed the Elimination War and the Liberation War,” the lawmaker reminded.

Turning to Aoun's political conduct in the period that followed his return to Lebanon in 2005, Fatfat slammed the performance of FPM's ministers, saying they “behaved maliciously and incompetently” and that they “failed to improve the energy and telecom sectors.”

The MP also cited “all of Aoun's declared political affiliations and his extreme adherence to the Iranian policies and Hizbullah.”

“Large segments of al-Mustaqbal Movement are unwilling to endorse Aoun,” Fatfat announced.

In remarks to al-Liwaa newspaper, Mustaqbal bloc MP Ammar Houry also described Aoun's presidential ambitions as mere “dreams.”

Change and Reform bloc MP Nabil Nicola however told al-Joumhouria that “day after day, it is becoming clearer that the only person who can rally all people is General Aoun.”

Asked about the visits that Aoun paid Wednesday to Speaker Nabih Berri and Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan, Nicola described them as Eid al-Fitr protocol visits but noted that “the General's chances are surging regardless of all these visits.”

Change and Reform parliamentary sources meanwhile told al-Liwaa that “the latest domestic moves bring the presidential seat closer to General Aoun although nothing is final yet.”

“Further deliberations are needed,” the sources added, noting that Aoun will continue his political contacts.

The sources also noted that “no meeting has been scheduled between him and (Mustaqbal leader) ex-PM (Saad) Hariri, although some parties are seeking to create communication between them.”

There has been speculation in the country that the latest rapprochement between Aoun and Berri could lead to an agreement over the stalled presidential election or the parliamentary polls.

Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and Hizbullah, Aoun's Change and Reform bloc and some of their allies have been boycotting the electoral sessions at parliament, stripping them of the needed quorum.

Hariri, who is close to Saudi Arabia, launched an initiative in late 2015 to nominate Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency but his proposal was met with reservations from the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.

The supporters of Aoun's presidential bid argue that he is more eligible than Franjieh to become president due to the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.

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