The Lebanese parliament failed today and for the 17th time in a row to elect a president to replace Michel Suleiman whose term ended on May 25.
As in the past sessions the parliament was unable to reach a quorum because the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group and its ally MP Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc MPs boycotted the sessions.
Speaker Nabih Berri postponed toto Jan. 28 , 2015 Lebanon’s presidential election.
In a related development Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea who was the first to announce his presidential candidacy and who remains March 14 candidate revealed Wednesday that his party and the Free Patriotic Movement have exchanged proposals , in preparation for a meeting between him and Aoun.
“The first [exchange] of proposals between the FPM and the LF took place yesterday, and they will be reviewed by both parties in order to reach a common ground , and then we will see what happens,” Geagea said during a press conference in Maarab, following the failed parliamentary session.
Geagea added that the two rival parties have not yet agreed on a candidate for the presidency.
“We should agree with Aoun mainly on the form of the republic, but we have not reached any agreement yet on the voting phase.”
Geagea said he would not meet with his Christian rival if he did not think they could produce a concrete solution to the presidential interregnum.
“Some people ask why Aoun and I have not met yet. Honestly, such meeting cannot be held before we have something concrete to offer to the public. The meeting should not be just to soothe the public opinion .”
“We are very serious with this dialogue, but unlike what some people think, this is not a process of distributing shares of the cake between us, that has never been the case… There are essential reasons behind our political rivalry, related to our different views of Lebanon’s status and priorities,” he added.
Geagea expanded on the political differences between the FPM and his own party.
“The FPM’s priority is political reform from inside, regardless of anything else. But the LF’s priority is to reinforce Lebanon’s identity as a definitive nation, aside from financial and political reform. There are major differences between us, and it is not a personal enmity between me and General Aoun, it is a matter of different and divergent points of view.”
He also highlighted Aoun’s alliance with Hezbollah as another major difference between the LF and the FPM.
“The LF sees that Hezbollah’s current status is a big problem, and has been the reason behind Lebanon’s problems since 2005, because it is disrupting the political process in the country… Also, Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria is pushing Lebanon into turmoil, and the country is paying for it,” he said.
Geagea also slammed the parliamentary blocs which did not attend the electoral session, preventing the body from reaching a quorum.
“The presidential election sessions have turned into a joke. The process has moved from being one of the highest forms of political work, to its current low level. Seven and a half months with a vacant Baabda palace is [too much].” Geagea said