Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported on Friday that Hezbollah has not abandoned Change and Reform bloc leader MP Michel Aoun as the presidential nominee of the March 8 alliance despite of all the reports of the potential candidacy of Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh.
A delegation from the party reportedly relayed Hezbollah’s commitment to Aoun when it offered its condolences to him over the death of his brother earlier this week.
The delegation told Aoun: “We support you and stand by you.”
“You are our nominee as long as your candidacy still stands,” added the delegation according to al-Joumhouria.
Franjieh’s nomination , even if it has not been officially announced has divided both rival camps , the Hezbollah led March 8 coalition and the March 14 coalition . Aoun has been March 8 candidate until now and the leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea has been the March 14 candidate .
According to an observer , Hezbollah is behind Franjieh’s nomination . Because of its close relations with Aoun Hezbollah reportedly asked its ally Speaker Nabih Berri to float the idea to PSP leader Walid Jumblatt and if found agreeable to sell it to former PM Saad Hariri .
Franjieh did visit Hariri in Paris and Jumblatt visited Hariri afterwards.
According to the observer what unites Hezbollah, Jumblatt , Berri and Hariri is their dislike for Aoun. Even though Hezbollah is a close ally of Aoun the party has reportedly never trusted him completely and besides it does not think he is electable .According to observers Franjieh’s ties to the Hezbollah group are much older and he may be its preferable choice as it wages war in Syria in support of Assad.
Franjieh emerged recently as a potential presidential candidate after visiting Hariri in Paris . But Aoun reportedly rejected his candidacy and Hezbollah went along with Aoun and declared that the FPM leader is its sole candidate .
Franjieh visited PSP chief MP Walid Jumblatt at his residence in Clemanceau Wednesday night . Prior to their meeting he told reporters that Hairi is very serious about his candidacy and trusts everything Hariri told him.
“My nomination has not become official until the moment and I believe that Hariri is 100% honest in his support for me and that he was serious in everything he said,” Franjieh said.
Franjieh stressed that his possible nomination will not affect the unity of the March 8 camp and that the camp will not head to the parliament to elect a president unless it is united. Franjieh played down Aoun’s objection and stressed that he and the general have been together for a long time and will remain friends.
French president’s call to Franjieh today brought an international dimension to the presidential crisis. Hollande’s call to Franjieh lasted for 15 minutes according to Lebanese media reports
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