The Lebanese Forces General Secretariat and the Future Movement are trying to mend the rift that emerged following the latest presidential nominations, and have therefore asked on Monday their supporters to stop the war of words on social media.
The General Secretariat of the Lebanese forces issued a circular asking its supporters to abstain from venting their anger against the nomination of MP Suleiman Franjieh on social media.
“We strongly urge our supporters and partisans to refrain from targeting the March 14 officials mainly (Future Movement chief) MP Saad Hairri on their personal pages on social media,” a circular issued by the Lebanese Forces said.
“Recently our supporters have posted stances on social media targeting leaders of March 14 alliance,” it added.
The Future movement issued a similar statement.
The calls come amid a flurry of political talks in Paris between Hariri and Franjieh that would see the nomination of the latter for the top state post.
LF chief Geagea, himself the only declared candidate of the March 14, has dispatched an indirect message to Hariri confirming adherence to the principles of March 14.
Geagea’s supporters have taken their anger on social media criticizing Hariri for nominating Franjieh, asking: “How would Hariri nominate someone who has close ties with the Syrian regime that is accused of committing assassinations in Lebanon since 2005?”
For their part, Hariri’s supporters replied, saying “The Future Movement leader only cares about ending the vacuum at the presidential post and defusing tension.”
Reports have also circulated that Geagea received a telephone call over the weekend from Hariri which he refused to answer. They also said that Geagea could be ready to support MP Michel Aoun for the presidency just to hamper the nomination of Franjieh.
For the 32nd time in a row, and despite renewed optimism, Lebanese politicians last week failed to elect a president.
What brought change recently was the suicide bomb attacks by the Islamic State group on 12 November that rocked Beirut. Both Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and Hariri emphasised the importance of national dialogue and called for an end to the presidential vacuum.
After the bombing, Lebanon saw a flurry of political activity with Hariri meeting French President Francois Hollande in Paris and the Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri holding national dialogue talks at his house. Then last week, Lebanese media suddenly reported that Hariri was preparing to back the presidential bid of Suleiman Franjieh.
Franjieh appears like an odd choice for Hariri. Franjieh is a key member of the March 8 alliance , a former interior minister with family ties to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez dating back to the 1950s.
Hariri , who has has been highly critical of Assad’s conduct during Syria’s civil war views the Syrian government as responsible for the assassination of his father, Rafik, in central Beirut in 2005. The killing sent shockwaves through Lebanon and eventually led to the end of three decades of Syrian occupation.