Geagea Says Hariri Talks Tackled Aoun Nomination, Stresses FPM Chief Not 'Consensual'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Monday said his Paris talks with former premier Saad Hariri tackled MP Michel Aoun's presidential nomination and the fact that the Free Patriotic Movement leader has proposed himself as a “consensual” candidate.
"I demonstrated with ex-PM Saad Hariri all the aspects of the political process related to the presidential vote and we discussed all the possible solutions to the crisis and raised all the possibilities," Geagea said during a press conference in the French capital, according to a statement distributed by the LF's media department.
"Ex-PM Hariri said that among the possibilities is the fact that General Michel Aoun has proposed himself as a consensual candidate. He said 'let's discuss how much General Aoun is a consensual candidate' and that's what we did ... and I had a very objective stance on the matter," Geagea added.
"I told him that contacts with the FPM are welcome and are beneficial for the country, knowing that we had tried to communicate with Hizbullah and the party did not show any desire to communicate with us," the LF leader said.
He added: "I told ex-PM Hariri that establishing contacts with the FPM is a good thing, but until the moment General Aoun is not a consensual candidate and that he cannot act like he did in the first and the subsequent sessions and yet consider himself to be consensual.”
Geagea stressed that Aoun cannot "suddenly become a consensus nominee after having spent nine years in a totally different political camp."
"Moreover, no one has informed us that the memorandum of understanding with Hizbullah has been annulled,” Geagea added.
But he pointed out that he does not have a “veto” on any candidate.
“Should General Aoun win, I will be the first person to congratulate him,” he said.
Geagea added: “The March 14 forces have a cause and are not merely running after power. We are seeking to prevent any deterioration in the country through the election of a candidate who can preserve the minimum extent of our beliefs and principles.”
He emphasized that the March 14 coalition will go to Thursday's electoral session as one bloc, urging the rival camp to head to parliament “to elect the candidate they want.”
In response to a question, Geagea said “Hizbullah is supporting General Aoun behind closed doors, but if Aoun is really their candidate, let Aoun announce his program and let them go to parliament to vote for him.”
Geagea also reminded that Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel and Telecom Minister Butros Harb, both of whom are presidential hopefuls, had “made initiatives towards Hizbullah, but the other camp maintained its negative stance.”
Earlier on Monday, remarks attributed to Geagea by some media outlets had caused confusion and prompted the LF to describe them as “incorrect, curtailed and totally inaccurate.”
“Remarks attributed by some media outlets to LF leader Samir Geagea about ex-PM Saad Hariri's stance on the endorsement of Change and Reform bloc MP Michel Aoun's presidential nomination are incorrect, curtailed and totally inaccurate,” the LF's media department said in a statement.
Geagea was earlier quoted as saying that Hariri suggested during their Paris meeting the possibility of endorsing Aoun as a “consensual” candidate.
According to LBCI television, Geagea stressed during his Paris press conference that “Aoun cannot be considered consensual after all his political practices that are based on his memorandum of understanding with Hizbullah.”
The LF leader, according to LBCI, also emphasized that “the Lebanese Forces does not have a veto on anyone,” noting that “Aoun has not changed his political alignment to be considered consensual.”
Geagea and Hariri held talks that lasted more than three hours in Paris on Sunday, the second such meeting between them in two days.
“The viewpoints were identical regarding the need to hold the presidential vote within the constitutional deadline, to reject vacuum and to make all possible and needed efforts and contacts to prevent it,” said a statement issued Sunday by Hariri's office.
The two leaders' talks come amid a flurry of political consultations in the French capital, which witnessed Sunday a meeting between Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.
Jumblat is also expected to meet with French President Francois Hollande while Geagea is scheduled to hold talks with a number of French officials.
Speaker Nabih Berri has called for a May 22 parliamentary session to elect a new president, which will be held two days before the end of President Michel Suleiman's term.
Should quorum be secured, the session would be the fifth since April 23.
Geagea received 48 votes during the first session, falling short of the 86 votes needed to be elected president from the first round. Most of the March 8 forces boycotted the sessions that were held afterwards, forcing a lack of quorum.