Several Lebanese political leaders welcomed on Monday the election of Michel Aoun as president of the republic and the end of around two and a half years of presidential and political vacuum.
“We hope there will be a national unity government for all Lebanese,”Former PM and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri said after the vote. Hariri is tipped to become premier and hissupport for Aoun’s nomination paved the way for his election as president .
Former PM and Future Movement parliamentary bloc chief Fouad Siniora, who had announced that he would not vote in Aoun’s favor, said: “We have a president now and we will cooperate with him.”
“It’s an excellent day. We have finally overcome the dilemma after three years,” Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said.
“Everyone’s cooperation is important in order to confront the challenges that are facing Lebanon, in line with the president’s oath of office and Speaker (Nabih) Berri’s speech,” added Jumblatt.
Asked whether Hariri’s mission of forming a new government will be easy, Jumblat said: “We all have to cooperate and must leave the disputes behind us.”
Most of Jumblatt’s Democratic Gathering bloc voted for Aoun after the nomination of its candidate MP Henri Helou was withdrawn in recent days.
Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh meanwhile congratulated Aoun, saying his election “is a victory for our political camp.”
Franjieh was Aoun’s main electoral rival until Saturday, when he called on those who support him to cast blank votes.
“No one asked me to launch a call for blank votes. I took this decision to preserve my allies and not to embarrass them,” Franjieh added, referring to media reports that have suggested that Hizbullah was behind the move.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea noted that his “cooperation” with Aoun will be “a main guarantee for the new presidential tenure.”
“The oath of office was promising in terms of focusing on building the State, the army and the economy. As for foreign policy and after two and a half years of total chaos, the new president clarified Lebanon’s commitment to the Arab League charter and the U.N. charter, putting Lebanon in the place it should be in terms of foreign policy,” Geagea added.
“It is Resurrection Day,” FPM chief and Aoun’s son-in-law Jebran Bassil meanwhile said via Twitter.
Former PM and Tripoli MP Najib Miqati meanwhile saluted Speaker Berri for “the commitment of his bloc to the attendance of all electoral sessions” amid “the obstruction of those who sought paralysis.”
And while lauding Aoun for “stressing adherence to the national principles in his oath of office,” Miqati hoped Aoun’s tenure will be one of “security, stability, prosperity and full respect for the Constitution and the work of the executive authority.”
Miqati also announced that he will be among the ranks of the “constructive opposition” that “takes its stances according to the performance of the president and the government that will be formed.”
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah meanwhile called Aoun to congratulate him over his election as president, Hezbollah ‘s media office said in a statement.
“He wished him a long life and success in his new national responsibilities,” the statement added.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Monday hailed the oath of office of President Michel Aoun and called for the formation of a harmonious government.
“I’m not against the formation of a national unity cabinet but I support the formation of a government that has a clear policy and a harmonious line-up,” Geagea said in an interview on LBCI television.
“Quarreling around the cabinet table will not lead to a result,” he noted.
Defending his support for Aoun’s nomination, Geagea explained: “We thought that our endorsement of General Aoun would immediately lead to his election but this did not happen even after several months.”
“When former PM (Saad) Hariri backed his nomination the March 8 forces had no excuse left for not electing him,” he added.
“After the LF and al-Mustaqbal Movement backed General Aoun’s nomination, it would have been a big scandal for Hezbollah not to support him and Hezbollah could not afford to lose its Christian cover,” Geagea went on to say.
Turning to Aoun’s presidential address, the LF leader said “the oath of office today was clear and sovereign par excellence and we must seek its implementation.”
“Aoun’s election is a step forward,” he stressed.
“The oath of office was promising in terms of focusing on building the State, the army and the economy. As for foreign policy and after two and a half years of total chaos, the new president clarified Lebanon’s commitment to the Arab League charter and the U.N. charter, putting Lebanon in the place it should be in terms of foreign policy,” Geagea said.
Int’l Support Group
The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG) on Monday congratulated President Michel Aoun over his election as Lebanon’s 13th president, calling for a speedy government formation and for holding the upcoming parliamentary polls on time.
“The members of the International Support Group for Lebanon congratulate Mr Aoun on his election today as President of the Republic of Lebanon. ” the ISG said in a statement.
The ISG comprises the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon and Ambassadors of the Arab League, China, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.
It hoped the election “will give the Lebanese people renewed confidence and will pave the way for broader political progress.”
The members of the ISG also stressed “the importance for domestic and regional stability of Lebanon’s continued commitment to the Baabda Declaration and relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1701 (2006), as well as respect for its international obligations.”
“The members of the ISG encourage all Lebanese parties to work constructively to that end, and further call on Lebanon’s regional partners to remain supportive of such efforts,” the ISG added.
European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini announced Monday that the election of Michel Aoun as president of Lebanon “opens the way for all political parties to now engage in constructive dialogue.”
“The election of Michel Aoun as President of the Republic of Lebanon more than two years after the end of term of his predecessor is crucial for the future of the country. Lebanon is confronted by many challenges, starting with the conflict in neighboring Syria, and is giving hospitality to hundreds of thousands of refugees,” Mogherini said in a statement.
“Today’s election of the President opens the way for all political parties to now engage in constructive dialogue and share the responsibility to address the longstanding institutional crisis and the needs of the Lebanese citizens,” she added.
“As the European Union, we remain fully committed to support Lebanon in all fields, and in particular on the refugee crisis,” Mogherini pledged.
“The new government will have to guarantee the stability of the country in this new political phase while adopting the necessary social and economic measures for the sake of all Lebanese,” Mogherini added.
“The upcoming 2017 parliamentary elections will be another key moment for Lebanon’s democracy. The legislative framework should be agreed in a constructive spirit. The European Union stands ready to support them and will deploy an election observation mission upon invitation of the Lebanese authorities,” the EU official went on to say.
“Lebanon has proven its resilience in many difficult circumstances: the European Union has always been, is and will stay at its side,” Mogherini added.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday welcomed the long-awaited election of a president in Lebanon and said a new government must now be formed without delay.
Ban congratulated Aoun who was elected by Lebanese lawmakers, ending a two-year political vacuum in the country.
He congratulated Aoun and his spokesman was quoted as saying in a statement “hopes that Lebanese parties will now continue to work in a spirit of unity and in the national interest ,”.
The U.N. chief “encourages the formation without delay of a government that can effectively serve the needs of all Lebanese citizens and address the serious challenges facing the country.” The statement added.
Other foreign leaders
President Aoun received phone calls Monday from a number of heads of state .
French President Francois Hollande expressed “France’s permanent readiness to help Lebanon in light of the historic ties that gather the two countries,” Lebanon’s National News Agency reported.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani meanwhile congratulated Aoun and hoped his election will boost bilateral ties between Lebanon and Iran.
“Your election comes at a very critical time during which the region is facing the threats of the takfiri movements and the terrorist groups and the ambitions of the Zionist entity (Israel). Iran is confident that your election will strengthen the axis of the Lebanese resistance in the face of these threat,” Rouhani added.
Aoun also received congratulatory phone calls from Syrian President Bashar Assad, Qatar’s emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Assad hoped Aoun’s election would contribute to “reinforcing stability” in Lebanon, Syria’s state news agency SANA said.
Parliamentary consultations for the designation of a new premier have been scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, National News Agency reported, hours after Aoun was elected as Lebanon’s 13th president.
Earlier in the day, Aoun signed a decree accepting the resignation of Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government and asking it to act in caretaker capacity until the formation of a new government.
During consultations at the Baabda Palace, parliamentary blocs inform the president of their nominations for the prime minister post and the candidate who receives the highest number of votes becomes is designated as the PM designate .
Former PM Saad Hariri is tipped to be re-designated as PM in light of his key support for Aoun’s nomination .
Aoun’s election ends a presidential void that lasted around two and a half years.
Analysts have warned that Aoun’s election will not be a “magic wand” for Lebanon, which has seen longstanding political divisions exacerbated by the war in neighboring Syria and has struggled to deal with an influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.
In addition to pledges of economic growth and security, Aoun said in his oath of office that Lebanon must work to ensure Syrian refugees “can return quickly” to their country.
Aoun also pledged to endorse an “independent foreign policy” and to protect Lebanon from “the fires burning across the region.”
The 81-year-old former army chief had long eyed the presidency.