The pro-Syrian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) has embarked on a media campaign aimed at forcing Future Movement leader Sa‘ad Hariri to back presidential hopeful and FPM founder Michel Aoun.
On Saturday, Ammar Houri denied media reports that alleged a “concealed agreement” was reached between Hariri and Aoun, which might see the latter become president of the republic and Hariri return to the premiership. Houri, a leading Future parliamentarian, affirmed that “news circulating in some media outlets about a secret agreement between Hariri and Aoun are totally untrue”.
He emphasised this carefully orchestrated campaign was meant to “sabotage the consultations that Hariri is carrying out”.
According to the rumors , an initial agreement was reached on four specific items — the appointment of a new commander for the Lebanese Army who would not be an anti-Hezbollah figure; a deliberate omission of Hezbollah’s arms in any public pronouncement since this was allegedly under discussion on the national dialogue table; the selection of several senior officials including a replacement for Riad Salameh, the Governor of the Central Bank; and an agreement over the ministerial statement that would be the same as the one under which the government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam operated and that granted Hezbollah specific privileges.
These unfounded rumours were promoted by March 8 sources. March 8 is an alliance of pro-Syrian parties, including FPM and Hezbollah.
Hezbollah leaders want Hariri to publicly and unconditionally back Aoun, and commit the Future Movement’s 26 parliamentary votes to vote for him.
In exchange, Hariri would become prime minster, a post he’s held before, but only if he backed the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad and pledged not to oppose him as premier.
The Lebanese parliament failed again on September 28th and for the 45th time in a row to elect a president to replace Michel Suleiman whose term ended on May 25 , 2014.
Amal Movement leader, Speaker Berri a key ally of Hezbollah postponed the election to October 31st.
Aoun and Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Frangieh are the 2 main candidates for president and both are key members of the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance.
Aoun is backed by Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces, while Frangieh is mainly supported by the Future Movement, the Amal Movement and the Progressive Socialist Party.
Both Hezbollah and the LF have reportedly attempted to convince Hariri to relinquish support for Frangieh and instead endorse Aoun, which they say is the only way to end the presidential vacancy.
Since his arrival to Beirut , Hariri has kicked off a series of consultations with top leaders in a bid to end the presidential vacuum, but has not declared any change in his choice for candidate so far. There is a lot of speculation that he has decided to endorse Aoun, but is facing a lot of objection from his Future Movement MPs .