Door to Lebanese presidency 'wide open', will vote for Aoun: Hezbollah
Written by Malek

Christian politician and FPM founder Michel Aoun talks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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.

Parliament 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.

Nasrallah 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 country's conflict

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.

Minister 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 Lebanese Arabs.”

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.