Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Army Commander Tops List of Lebanese Presidential Candidates

Army Commander Tops List of Lebanese Presidential Candidates

Wednesday, 1 February, 2023 - 07:00
The PSP delegation meets with Patriarch al-Rahi in Bkirki on Tuesday. (NNA)

Lebanese Army commander Joseph Aoun’s chances of becoming the next president grew on Tuesday after receiving the backing of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), headed by former MP Walid Jumblatt.

A PSP delegation, headed by MP Taymour Jumblatt, Walid’s son, visited Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki to discuss the latest political developments in the country.

After the talks, MP Raji al-Saad said an agreement was reached with al-Rahi on the need to elect a new president to revive constitutional work.

“Partnership begins with the election of a new president,” he added, stressing the need to resolve the issue given the severe crises Lebanon is enduring.

“We are in agreement with the patriarch that there can be no solution without the constitution and Taef Accord, the election of a president, restoring work at state institutions and launching the financial and economic recovery process through kicking off immediate reforms,” he said.

On the presidency, he remarked: “No agreement has been reached on a specific candidate, but there is a list and army commander Joseph Aoun is topping it at the moment.”

“This does not necessarily reflect the PSP’s stance, but it is a culmination of meetings held between all political blocs,” he explained.

Moreover, he noted that even on the international level, Aoun’s name has been brought up the most in discussing the presidency.

PSP MP Hadi Abul Hassan told Asharq Al-Awsat that Aoun appears to be the favored candidate of some friendly nations and of some local parties.

He noted that the Lebanese Forces “had not concealed its support for Aoun should consensus be reached over his candidacy.”

A number of opposition powers also back the army commander, he remarked.

The PSP has been holding meetings with rivals and allies in an attempt to reach a breakthrough in the presidential impasse. PSP representatives have met with Hezbollah and Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) officials. The PSP is also in constant contact with parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the Lebanese Forces and opposition blocs.

Walid Jumblatt had met with Berri on Tuesday.

Abul Hassan said former minister Jihad Azour and former MP Salah Hnein appear to be the other favored candidates besides Aoun.

Hezbollah continues to stick to its nomination of Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh for its own considerations, he added. The party may agree to Aoun’s nomination if it receives certain “guarantees” from him.

On whether the crisis over the presidency was close to being resolve, he told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I don’t think so. We may reach a breakthrough, but we are not close to resolving the crisis because of complicated considerations that need to be address.”

Among the obstacles is the ongoing crisis between Hezbollah and its ally, head of the FPM, MP Gebran Bassil, who is opposed to Franjieh’s candidacy.

Editor Picks