Russia’s backing of Franjieh outrages Aoun, prompts him to cancel Moscow trip

File photo of  Marada movement leader , MP Sleiman Franjieh  with  Russian Ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin.
File photo of Marada movement leader , MP Sleiman Franjieh with Russian Ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin discussing the Lebanese presidency in April 2014 . NNA

Russia is  reportedly backing the election of Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh as president, al-Liwaa newspaper   reported on Saturday.

Russian Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Zasypkin reportedly  relayed this stance to the lawmaker,  a diplomatic source told the daily.

This position reportedly outraged Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun  and prompted him to  cancel a scheduled trip to Moscow.

Aoun is Hezbollah’s  presidential nominee, while Franjieh is the nominee of former Lebanese PM and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri .

Both Aoun and Franjieh are members of the Hezbollah led march 8 alliance , but Harairi reportedly decided to nominate Franjieh to end the political vacuum in Lebanon

Al-Liwaa revealed that Franjieh had recently telephoned  Hariri to thank him for his recent political stands .

Hezbollah announced that it would boycott electoral sessions unless it has guarantees that its candidate Aoun will be elected president.

The Lebanese parliament failed again on March 2nd and for the 36th time in a row to elect a president to replace Michel Suleiman whose term ended on May 25 , 2014.

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 lawmakers  boycotted the session, because they could not guarantee Aoun’s election as a president

Speaker Berri a key ally of Hezbollah postponed the election to March 23, 2016.

 Berri  sounded optimistic yesterday about the election of  a president  and has reportedly  been holding contacts with Hezbollah to persuade it to attend the March 23, 2016  electoral session.

Like Hezbollah , Russia is backing the Syrian regime . Franjieh is  also a stanch ally of the embattled Syrian president Bashar al Assad .