Report: US says Franjieh would be legitimate president as Geagea rejects Azour

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea answered three Lebanese officials weeks ago by saying that Suleiman Franjieh would be a “legitimate president,” a media report said on Wednesday.

“If elected, we will deal with him as a legitimate president of the Lebanese republic,” al-Akhbar newspaper quoted Shea as telling the officials.

Separately, the daily reported that Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has recently rejected an initiative by Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat for the election of ex-minister Jihad Azour as president.

“The short-lived initiative was discussed by Jumblat aides with prominent forces in the Christian community, based on the stances of the LF and the Free Patriotic Movement on the (presidential candidates) list attributed to Archbishop (Antoine) Bou Najem,” al-Akhbar added.

Jumblat considered that “it is possible to propose names that might not be fully endorsed by the Amal-Hezbollah duo while not representing a provocation to them or to foreign parties,” the daily said.

“Taking the FPM’s veto on Salah Honein into consideration, Jumblat tried to convince the LF with endorsing Azour, seeing as he is one of the PSP leader’s candidates who enjoys the FPM’s support and has strong ties with Speaker Nabih Berri. Saudi Arabia also does not oppose his nomination and he does not seem to have a serious problem with the Western parties, topped by the U.S. and France,” al-Akhbar added.

Geagea, however, rejected Azour’s nomination for several reasons, including “the dispute related to the stances of his late uncle Jean Obeid, who was at odds with the LF.”

“The LF also considers that the Azour family stands by the FPM and that Azour did not seek to build a relation with the LF and has ambiguous stances on the March 14 movement,” al-Akhbar added.

“The LF has said that its rejection of Azour is final and will not be affected by any development or change in the stances of any domestic, Arab or international party,” the daily said.

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