Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt commented on the obstacles facing Lebanon presidential election during his visit to Kuwait by saying
“it is time to get out of the shell of traditional names” and to elect a consensual and not a confrontational president.
In an interview published in Kuwait’s al-Qabas newspaper on Thursday,
Jumblatt proposed during an interview with Kuwait’s al-Qabas newspaper that was published on Thursday, the names of Lebanese lawyer Chibli Mallat, and International Monetary Fund official , former Lebanese minister Jihad Azour.
Jumblatt branded both Marada movement leader Suleiman Franjieh and MP Michel Mouawad as confrontational.
“Can Lebanese parties continue with their confrontational approach when there is a political climate of consensus in the region,” Jumblatt wondered, in reference to the recent improvement in Iran Saudi ties
“There is a regional dialogue that is bigger than (Parliament Speaker Nabih) Berri and myself, shouldn’t we benefit from it,” Jumblatt asked, who is closely associated with Berri.
In his law practice, Mallat is best known for bringing the case of Victims of Sabra and Shatila v. Ariel Sharon et al. under the law of universal jurisdiction in Belgium. Mallat also helped establish the Middle East regional office of Amnesty International in Beirut in 1999 for which his law firm has acted since as legal counsel
Jihad Azour is currently the Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund where he oversees the Fund’s work in the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and Caucasus.
Azour served as Lebanon’s Finance Minister in 2005-08, during which time he coordinated the implementation of important reforms, including modernizing the country’s tax and customs systems. Before and since his time as finance minister, he held a wide range of positions in the private sector, including McKinsey and Booz and Co. where he was a Vice-President and Senior Executive Advisor.
The Lebanese economy remains severely depressed against continued deadlock over much needed economic reforms and high uncertainty. Despite the urgency for action to address Lebanon’s deep economic and social crisis, progress in implementing the reforms agreed under the 2022 agreement with IMF remains very slow.
Azour is being seen by many as most qualified consensual candidate to be Lebanon’s new president at this particular period because of his financial expertise
Suleiman Franjieh, a key ally of Hezbollah and a close friend of Syrian president Bashar al Assad is the candidate of Hezbollah and its ally Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement ( the so called Shiite Duo)
While MP Michel Mouawad, president of the Independence Movement, is the candidate of the opposition .
At least 65 votes are needed to elect a president and a quorum of 86 MPS needed to conduct the election . The Lebanese parliament is made up of 128 MPS
Speaker Berri has been counting on Jumblatt’s parliamentary bloc to vote for Franjieh , but it appears that Jumblatt has other plans in mind .
Lebanon has been without a president since Michel Aoun’s term expired last October
Franjieh is being seen by the opposition as Aoun number 2
Aoun was proclaimed as Lebanon’s worst president ever.
The parliament had failed in 11 sessions to elect a new president
“Will we remain stubborn in the time of dialogue, normalization and the resumption of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran,” Jumblatt said, as he reiterated his call for consensus.