The Hezbollah party will back head of the Marada Movement Suleiman Franjieh to be the Lebanon’s president, the group's leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday, a move that gives him important backing but does not secure his election.
Lebanon has had no head of state since former president Michel Aoun's term ended at the end of October, deepening institutional paralysis in a country where one of the world's-worst economic crises has been festering for years.
"The natural candidate we support in the presidential elections is (former) minister Suleiman Frangieh," Nasrallah said.
Franjieh, 56, is heir to an old Lebanese political dynasty and a friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
His grandfather, of the same name, served as president from 1970 into Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war.
Franjieh has the support of parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal Movement party but still falls short of the 65 votes required for him to be elected.
A close Hezbollah ally, he appeared close to becoming president in 2016, but Hezbollah's support went to Aoun - another of its Christian allies who now have a 20-member bloc in parliament but have opposed Franjieh’s election.
Franjieh’s candidacy is also opposed by the Lebanese Forces party led by Samir Geagea.
Franjieh’s parents and sister were killed by the Lebanese Forces militia in 1978 at their home in the north of the country.
Franjieh held Geagea - an LF commander at the time - responsible for the raid. Geagea has denied taking part, saying he was wounded before reaching the house.
In 2018, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi oversaw reconciliation between the two.