According to the Saudi Okaz daily, two unnamed but presumably leading political parties held serious conversations that called for the election of Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) founder MP Michel Aoun “for a two-year period”.
This is not a new idea. In mid-2014, just a few weeks after Michel Sulaiman ended his six-year term in office, the pro-Hezbollah Al Akhbar had reported that Lebanese officials in Paris, presumably from the a Future Movement party, had tabled an identical proposal .
The deal would have also allowed Aoun to appoint his son-in-law, General Chamel Roukoz, head of the army. Roukoz retired from the army several months ago.
Then as now, such a proposal requires a constitutional amendment and entails reaching an agreement over a new parliamentary electoral law.
Since Sulaiman ended his presidential term in May 2014, Hezbollah and most of its March 8 allies boycotted 38 parliamentary sessions that were allocated for electing a president
Without a two-thirds quorum, parliament sessions led to bickering, as Iran-backed Hezbollah insisted that it would only participate if it received solid guarantees that its candidate, Aoun, would be elected.
In a surprise move on January 18 this year, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea who was the first to announce his candidacy publicly backed Aoun.
Aoun now faces two opponents: Marada movement chief Sulaiman Franjieh, who is also a March 8 candidate and was selected by former PM and Future Movement leader Sa’ad Hariri as an alternative, and Henri Helou, a Progressive Socialist Party candidate.
Franjieh’s nomination created insurmountable hurdles on account of his pro-Syrian policies, and Helou is little more than a blocking candidate to prevent anyone from reaching the required two-thirds without PSP leader Walid Junblatt’s blessings.
For now, the election of a president either for a single or two-year term is unlikely to occur because Hezbollah does not seem to want to fill the post.
Aoun celebrated his 80th birthday in February , but he Free Patriotic Movement leader is as determined as ever to stay in the presidential race despite his age, dismissing repeated calls to withdraw in favor of a consensus candidate to fill the country’s top Christian post.
Geagea stressed on March 23rd that Hezbollah does not want presidential elections in the current period or the election of Aoun its main Christian ally.
“At the strategic level, Hezbollah cannot coexist with a real state in Lebanon … and at the tactical level Hezbollah does not want General Aoun as president, although it cannot afford to lose him, which has pushed it to obstruct the presidential vote,” Geagea said.