Egypt Ambassador: Hariri Exerting Great Effort to End Presidential Vacancy
Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon Nazih Naggari held talks Thursday with al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri and noted that the former premier is “exerting a great effort to end the presidential vacancy.”
“I was honored to meet with (ex-)premier Hariri, who has a special relationship with Egypt. He returned from abroad a few days ago and I wanted to meet with him as soon as possible to discuss the latest developments,” Naggari said after the Center House meeting.
“Hariri is exerting a great effort to end the presidential vacancy and this is important for all the Lebanese. He has a large role and an active presence in the Lebanese political life,” he added.
The envoy said Hariri briefed him on “the latest developments on this issue and on his view about the situation in Lebanon.”
“We agreed to pursue the consultations in the coming period. It is clear that the matter is open as well as the options. Ex-premier Hariri is considering the possibilities and he will continue the consultations with all political forces,” Naggari added.
“We will pursue this matter with him, and we hope that Lebanon will have a president as soon as possible, because the presidential vacancy for a period of two and a half years is unacceptable, and should not last more than that,” he went on to say.
Hariri's return to Lebanon on Saturday has triggered a flurry of rumors and media reports about a possible presidential settlement and the possibility that the ex-PM has finally decided to endorse Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun for the presidency in a bid to break the deadlock.
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, 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.
Hariri's move prompted Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea to endorse the nomination of Aoun, his long-time Christian rival, after months of political rapprochement talks between their two parties.
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.