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jumblatt helouMP Henri Helou who was nominated by Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt as as Presidential Candidate denied that he represents the interests of PSP leader and praised the first round of Lebanon’s ongoing presidential elections on Wednesday “democratic” and “100% Lebanese.”

“I am not Walid Jumblatt’s candidate, or a Trojan horse, as certain [writers] in the press have circulated,” Helou told Kuwaiti daily As-Seyassah in an interview published Saturday.

Helou who is trying to present himself as a consensus candidate to attract the Hezbollah led March 8 alliance went on to praise the results of Wednesday’s electoral session, and called the casting of a large number of blank votes by the March 8 alliance “democratic.”

“The first round of presidential elections was not just democratic; it was also one hundred percent Lebanese. [It still happened, despite] the many rumors that certain parties were aiming to sabotage the session and destroy the presidential elections completely.”

The candidate who is trying to distance himself from Jumblatt defended the casting of blank ballots by March 8:

“The March 8 team chose voting with blank ballots over not [providing] a quorum [for the session,] and that was a democratic expression and democratic behavior, even if it is not agreeable.” He stressed.

During the April 23 electoral session, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, the first to publicly announce his candidacy received 48 votes , while MP Helou a distant second received 16 votes and 52 MPs cast blank ballots.

According to An Nahar sources 4 MPs from Speaker Nabih Berri’s bloc voted for Helou.

86 votes of the 128-member parliament were needed to win in the first round, while only 65 votes are required in the second round.

According to observers Berri , who is a key member of March 8 alliance called in a hurry for an April 30 electoral session for fear that if a second round was held on April 23 Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea could possibly muster the required 65 votes to win.

Photo: MP Henri Helou (L) was nominated by Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt as as Presidential Candidate on April 22

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