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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Beirut - Caroline Akoum

Lebanon: Hezbollah, Amal Undecided About Nominating Army Chief for Presidency

Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun attends a ceremony on Wednesday. (LAF website)

Lebanon’s Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, has been recenlty topping the list of potential candidates for the presidency.

While Aoun has gained the support of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), the head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, announced on Wednesday that he would not object the Army chief’s election, provided that his election would solve the ongoing presidential crisis.

On the other hand, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), MP Gebran Bassil, lashed out at the Army Commander during a press conference on Sunday, in an explicit rejection of his potential nomination.

But Hezbollah and Amal Movement, the two main Shiite parties in the country, have so far maintained their support to the head of the Marada Movement, former Minister Suleiman Franjieh.

While the supporters of MP Michel Moawad hinted that they had reached a dead end regarding his election, the Shiite duo has not yet announced a clear position, but only emphasized the importance of dialogue and the need to reach consensus among the different blocs.

Parliamentary sources in the Development and Liberation Bloc, headed by Speaker Nabih Berri, refused to give names, specifically about Berri’s position on Aoun’s nomination.

Reaffirming openness to dialogue and consensus, Berri’s sources, on the other hand, pointed to the problem related to amending the constitution, as the Army Commander is supposed to resign from his position six months before his election, a move that hasn’t materialized.

For his part, Hezbollah’s deputy secretary-general, Naim Qassem, stressed that the party was open for discussions.

Qassem Kassir, a political analyst close to Hezbollah, said: “The party still supports Franjieh’s candidacy, but is open to dialogue and ready for all possibilities.”

Asked whether Hezbollah would accept the election of the army commander, Kassir said: “The party has no problem with this option if it is consensual, which was previously announced by the head of [Hezbollah’s] political council, Ibrahim Amin Al-Sayed.”

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