Former leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Michel Aoun hailed his strong alliance with Hezbollah ahead of a televised speech that the party leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to make on Friday.
“The Sayyed and I are one,” Aoun proclaimed . “There is an integrated existence between us.”
Hezbollah has been extremely silent since Lebanese Forces chief Samir Gaegea endorsed the presidential candidacy of Aoun, his long time rival.
Nasrallah’s televised address on Friday is expected to focus on the issue to end speculation whether Hezbollah continues to consider Aoun the only candidate of the March 8 alliance.
Another member of the alliance, Marada chief MP Suleiman Franjieh, is backed by the head of the March 14 coalition former PM and Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri.
Franjieh has refused to drop his candidacy in favor of Aoun, a sign that the presidential deadlock, which started following the end of Michel Suleiman’s term in May 2014, will not end anytime soon.
Aoun was asked by al-Akhbar daily which is closely associated with Hezbollah and the Syrian regime whether he would seek to bring the LF and Hezbollah closer, the MP replied: “They will surely talk to each other.”
He said the agreement he reached with the LF is in the “nation’s interest” and goes “beyond the presidential elections.”
“We are working to create a balance in the implementation of the Taef Accord, which we are keen on activating,” Aoun told the newspaper.
“We now represent the absolute majority of Christians … maybe more than 80 percent,”Aoun proclaimed
Asked to respond to a comment made by Franjieh that he has the majority of votes in parliament, Aoun said: “Results are given after counting the votes and not beforehand.”
“Why should someone with 70 votes step down for someone with 40 votes?,” Franjieh was quoted as saying on Thursday.
Geagea : No dialogue with Hezbollah
Geaega told al-Riyadh daily in an interview on Friday that he anticipated the Maarab rapprochement with Aoun to be one step in support of the Taef accord as he stressed there was no dialogue between the LF and Hezbollah.
“The Maarab rapprochement is one of the major steps in support of the Taef accord for the next phase,” he said
Geagea stressed that his endorsement of Aoun came after thorough political negotiations that reiterated adherence to the Taef agreement which was reached in 1989 to end the decades-long Lebanese Civil War.
Geagea said: “The ten points that we agreed upon (during the nomination of Aoun) have proven our adherence to coexistence.”
On reports claiming that his relations with March 14 camp were shaken following Aoun’s nomination, he said: “There is no dissociation inside March 14. This is far from reality. It is true that political contacts with former PM Saad Harri are somewhat cold, but that does not spoil friendliness.
“The Coalition will continue as it has always been regardless of what can be achieved in that matter.”
He stressed that the reconciliation with Aoun was the right thing to do. “I was expecting this step to be generally welcomed by everyone because everyone was insisting in the last ten years on reconciliation with the FPM.”
On his relations with Hezbollah the LF leader stated that there is no ongoing dialogue between the two, refusing to link the timing of the presidential elections to the situation in Syria.
He also rejected Hezbollah’s proposal to agree on several issues in “one basket” that included the presidency, the cabinet and parliamentary elections.
“It is something we totally reject. The presidential elections only mean electing a president. Why link it to other issues such as the activation of the government?” he asked.
Expressing astonishment at Hezbollah’s delay in backing the nomination of Aoun, he said: “Hezbollah spent one year and eight months emphasizing that it is backing the MP for the top state post. Today, the necessary preparations are over at the Christian level, and the majority of Christians now support him. I don’t know what is hindering the party to speed up the steps to elect him?”