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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Beirut - Mohamed Choucair

Nasrallah Snubs Bassil after MP Rejects his Candidate for Lebanese Presidency

Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) chief MP Gebran Bassil pictured in November 2019. (AFP)

Head of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah has refused to hold a meeting with Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) chief MP Gebran Bassil over his rejection of the party’s candidate for the Lebanese presidency.

Bassil has compiled a list of potential candidates that does not include the party’s favored pick, Marada Movement leader former MP Suleiman Franjieh.

A leading source from the Shiite duo of Hezbollah and Amal revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Bassil was seeking to hold a meeting with Hezbollah.

The MP contacted the party’s Liaison and Coordination Officer Wafiq Safa to arrange the meeting that would tackle Bassil’s list of candidates.

Safa asked Bassil if he had included Franjieh’s name on the list, to which he replied that he had not. Bassil did not disclose the other names on the list.

Safa then asked him why he chose to leave him off the list when Nasrallah had previously informed him that Franjieh had the highest chances of being elected president.

Safa then frankly told Bassil that there was no need to hold a meeting with Nasrallah if he continued to maintain this stance, revealed the source.

There is no possibility to mend the relations between Bassil and Hezbollah given that the MP had chosen a direct confrontation with Nasrallah, it explained.

The source wondered if Bassil had chosen to wage such a confrontation in order to improve his image before regional and international forces. Perhaps they would lift the American sanctions imposes on him.

It questioned why the MP appears eager to sever relations with Hezbollah. Has he been promised by the European right that they would approach Washington on his behalf to help remove the sanctions?

At any rate, the party will not remain silent and will be forced to declare a position to clarify its stance from the dispute.

Hezbollah now believes that Bassil has taken a position that is opposed to the party, added the source.

Moreover, it said that Bassil was waging an open political battle against his rivals in the hope of gaining time that would increase his chances of joining the race for the presidency. He has also taken it upon himself to eliminate other candidates.

Lebanon has been without a president since October when the term of Michel Aoun, Bassil’s father-in-law, ended. Several elections sessions have been held at parliament since but no single candidate has garnered enough votes to be declared the winner.

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