Reuters, (Reporting by Laila Bassam and Lisa Barrington; editing by Andrew Roche)
The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said on Sunday the door to electing a president was "wide open" and his members of parliament would vote for ally Michel Aoun at a parliamentary session at the end of October.
Lebanon has been without a president for more than two years, part of a political crisis that has resulted in a breakdown in many basic services and concerns about the country's stability.
Lebanon's former prime minister Saad al-Hariri said on Thursday he would back Christian leader Aoun to be president. Hariri stressed that his endorsement was a "political settlement" for the benefit of the whole country.
Gulf news reports- Joseph A. Kechichian: "Observers of Lebanese politics believe classic pro-Syrian
March 8 and anti-Syrian March 14 groups are no longer relevant following
the political fallout surrounding Sa’ad Hariri’s recent decision to
back Michel Aoun for president. No one knows what the next parliament session, scheduled for October 31, will hold and who will back who. But
one clear effect of Hariri’s shock decision are growing divisions
within both alliances. Splits have already emerged between members of
the March 14 alliance with some members supporting Hariri’s decision and
others staunchly rejecting it. The same goes for March 8, an
alliance made up of Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and two principal
Shiite parties, Amal and Hezbollah, with the latter fighting side by
side with Bashar Al Assad’s forces in Syria." Druze leader Walid Junblatt, whose Progressive Socialist Party is part
of the March 14 alliance, said he “understood” Berri’s reservation on
the way in which Aoun’s name was put forward.
"The past few days saw an important
development: a declaration by the Future Movement leader (Hariri) of his
support for the nomination of General Michel Aoun for the presidency.
The door is now realistically wide open for a successful presidential
election," Nasrallah said.
will convene on Oct. 31 for a session to elect the president, the 46th
such sitting since the term of the last president, Michel Suleiman,
expired in 2014. Each of the previous sittings failed to gain the
two-thirds quorum needed for a vote.
The position of president must be filled by a Maronite Christian.
spoke at a commemoration event for a Hezbollah military commander
recently killed fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Iran-backed
Hezbollah is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the
Future Party leader Fouad Siniora declared that he would not vote for
Aoun and, according to the Kuwaiti daily Al Anba’, agreed to join
independent lawmakers in a new gathering which would be known as the
“White Movement”, a name derived from their anticipated blank votes.
of Justice Ashraf Rifi lambasted Aoun and pledged to stand in the face
of what he defined is a new “Iranian custodianship of the Lebanese
people,” adding: “We will maintain our presence and our identity as
Speaking in public to a large crowd he derided
Hariri for his lack of “courage” accusing him of surrendering to his
opponents at the expense of the country and its identity.
Rifi affirmed that the selection of Aoun as president would only seal
what he termed unacceptable Iranian influence that will endanger the
country with more divisions.
Rifi shot to stardom after he
submitted his resignation earlier this year over the judiciary’s failure
to prosecute Lebanese politician Michel Samaha for plotting attacks in
the country at the behest of Syria.
Observers say Rifi is looking
to replace Hariri as the leader of Lebanese Sunnis and he has not minced
his words when criticising the son of the widely-respected Rafik
Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005 in car bomb, believed to be linked
to Hezbollah and Syria.