Aoun Bloc Says AMAL Remarks on War, Sunni-Christian Deal 'Unacceptable'

The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc on Tuesday dismissed accusations from Speaker Nabih Berri's AMAL Movement about an alleged “Sunni-Christian” deal as an attempt to “blackmail” the supporters of Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun's presidential bid.

Describing Aoun as “the nominee whose candidacy conforms with the National Pact,” the bloc boasted that the FPM founder “has become immunized with broad support” from the majority of the political parties.

“The (Oct. 16) speeches of General Aoun and (FPM chief Jebran) Bassil carried all the indications about a project to build the state with all the country's components without the exclusion of anyone,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting.

“The National Pact is not bilateral or tripartite but rather for everyone,” it stressed.

“Any remarks about Christian-Sunni bilateral powersharing are unacceptable and seditious and we will confront any attempt to stir sedition,” the bloc added.

And reassuring that “the project of the state” is its “unifying project,” Change and Reform stressed the importance of “passing an electoral law that ensures correct representation in line with the National Pact.”

“We do not apologize and we do not try to justify and we are walking with firm steps towards the National Pact and the Lebanon of national partnership. Those who want to support us are free to support us and those who do not want to support us are free to oppose us without launching arbitrary accusations,” the bloc added.

Earlier in the day, Berri's aide and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil confirmed that the speaker's Development and Liberation bloc would “vote against” Aoun in any presidential election session.

He also noted that Berri's AMAL Movement would “join the ranks of the opposition” should Aoun be elected president.

“We see things heading to the Maronite-Sunni bilateral power-sharing of 1943 and we will confront this scenario,” Khalil added.

In remarks published Tuesday in al-Akhbar newspaper, aides to Berri had also accused Aoun and ex-PM Saad Hariri of seeking to undermine “the partnership with political Shiism that followed the Taef Accord.”

Asked whether a return to the 1943 pact would ignite a new civil war, the sources said: “That's true. What they are doing will lead to a civil war and we will fight to defend ourselves and Hizbullah!”

MP Alain Aoun of the FPM announced Monday that Hariri will announce his endorsement of Aoun “this week.”

The ex-PM has been exploring the possibility of endorsing Aoun for several weeks now and on Sunday Education Minister Elias Bou Saab of the FPM announced that Hariri has officially decided to endorse Aoun's presidential bid.

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 parliament's electoral sessions, stripping them of the needed quorum.

Hariri 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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