Could Suleiman Franjieh be Lebanon’s next president ?

jumblatt, franjiyeh 2
Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblatt (R) with Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh in an undated photo during a recent meeting

Something is cooking in Lebanon.

And the chefs are well know politicians!

There is a lot of speculation that Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh could become Lebanon’s next president.

Reports emerged Sunday and Monday that Franjieh had recently met with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Paris over Lebanon’s political crises.

 Hariri’s press office    announced in  a statement  on Monday that he and Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat agreed in their Paris talks on Sunday on the need to “find a comprehensive national settlement,”

“ Former PM Hariri met at his Paris residence with Democratic Gathering chief MP Walid Jumblat, who was accompanied by Health Minister Wael Abou Faour,” Hariri’s press office   said.

The meeting was also attended by Hariri’s advisers Bassem al-Sabaa, Ghattas Khoury and Nader Hariri, it added.

The two men agreed on the need to “exert all efforts possible to find a comprehensive national settlement that preserves our National Pact and Taef Accord’s stipulations.”

The settlement “must first address the presidential vacuum crisis, … activate the work of government and parliament, and provide a political-security shield for protecting Lebanon,” the statement said.

The speculation became serious when MP Ahmed Fatfat  , a key member of the Future Movement confirmed in remarks to al-Jadeed TV that Hariri had met with Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh in Paris last week.

The meeting was aimed at “exploring” stances, Fatfat said.

The MP stressed,  that “Future Movement ‘s stance on the need to find a consensual presidential candidate is firm.”

Asked about the Hariri-Jumblat meeting, the lawmaker said it was part of “the continuous consultations and coordination.”

Hariri “believes in the need to exert efforts to fill the presidential void as a first step towards reviving the regular functioning of state institutions,” Fatfat added.

But not everybody is happy

Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi a key ally of  former PM Hariri  criticized  Monday the idea of electing a candidate with links to Syrian President Bashar Assad as Lebanon’s next head of state.

“Any person with links to Assad is not a good model to take over the presidency,” Rifi said during a retirement ceremony to honor Maj. Gen. Bassam Ayyoubi, former head of the Tripoli police.

MP Michel Aoun will be extremely disappointed too, since his dream of becoming a president will no longer be ever fulfilled . Such a move could also spell the end of Hezbollah Aoun alliance .

Obviously Hezbollah will be happy because Samir Geagea , the leader of the Lebanese Forces who was the first to announce his presidential candidacy will not be the next president.

and Bashar al Assad no doubt will be thrilled , even though his influence this time on the selection of his friend  may be minimal .

Last but not least the majority of Lebanese will be disappointed  that after nearly 17 months Lebanon will get a  president who happened to be the grandson of another one  who brought the Syrians to Lebanon in 1976.

Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014.

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