Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea who received the largest number of votes in the first Parliamentary session set for presidential elections slammed the Hezbollah led March 8 alliance for not fielding a presidential candidate and for casting blank votes , accusing it of behaving as if it does not belong to country.
“There is a party in Lebanon that behaves as if it does not belong to this country,” Geagea said following the parliament session, that was adjourned until April 30th.
As was widely expected the parliament failed to elect a new president to succeed Michel Suleiman, whose term ends on May 25.
Geagea, the first to publicly announce his candidacy, gained 48 out of 128 votes against 52 blank votes cast by the March 8 coalition’s MPs. MP Henri Helou, who was nominated by Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt won 16 votes, and Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel received one vote. Seven votes cast for victims who were alleged to be killed by Geagea were annulled.
Geagea on the other hand commended the parliament session and considered it a big victory for the democratic system in the country. He added: “The March 14 camp has restored dignity to the presidential elections.”
“We will not return to old habits of choosing a president behind closed doors and through foreign interference,” added Geagea in reference to Syria’s influence over the elections in the past.
“We will continue with the electoral process to the end and until a Lebanese-elected president is chosen,” he vowed.
On claims that he is a confrontational presidential candidate, Geagea asked: “Do they want a president who does not have a presidential program? Don’t they want a president who has answers to Lebanon’s problems?”
“We will cooperate with whichever president is elected as long as he is chosen through democratic means,” he added.
Geagea followed up the parliamentary session from his residence in Maarab.
“For the first time in many years the presidential elections are serious and made in Lebanon,” he told reporters.
A candidate needed to secure 86 votes of the 128-member parliament during the first round to be named president.
A second round of elections will be held on April 30, where a candidate will need 65 votes to claim victory.
A large number of MPs from the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance withdrew from the parliament after the counting of votes began.
124 MPs out of 128 attended the parliament session. The MPs who did not attend the session are former PM Saad Hariri, Oqab Saqr, Elie Aoun and Khaled al-Daher.