BEIRUT — Marada party leader Sleiman Frangieh said Thursday that after Sunday’s parliamentary elections he “is open to dialogue with the Free Patriotic Movement.” Frangieh’s remarks came during an interview with local media outlet Al Mayadeen. The FPM is led by Frangieh’s potential opponent for the presidency, Gebran Bassil,
Here’s what we know:
• “We could either get along, or disagree,” Frangieh hypothesized regarding the outcome of the dialogue while affirming he was approaching the FPM “with the best intentions and without any conditions.”
• “Nothing proves that there is a link between the Lebanese Forces and Israel,” the Marada head said in response to Bassil’s statement that “voting for the Lebanese Forces is voting for Israel.” The LF is the FPM’s rival Christian party. Frangieh went on to say that the LF “had asked to sponsor a dialogue with Hezbollah in the discussions carried out when the matter of the presidency was tackled.” Frangieh added that the decision “between the FPM or LF” will be “according to [his party’s] strategic line.”
• While Frangieh first denied his candidacy for the presidential elections, he later reframed the matter by saying he would not run without “the support of [his] political allies, even if the other party supports me.” The allies in question arethe March 14 alliance, which includes the LF, the Future Movement and the Kataeb party. The current presidential term ends in October.
• Frangieh voiced opposition to Bassil as a potential president, saying “if the head of the largest parliamentary bloc becomes president, what good is it to have elections?” The FPM has repeatedly stated Bassil’s leadership of the bloc as a pro for his candidacy to the presidential elections.
• The matter of Bassil as a potential presidential candidate has repeatedly been discussed, notably during an iftar hosted by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah reuniting Bassil and Frangieh. However, both potential candidates’ chances for the Baabda seat are jeopardized. Bassil, who is under US anti-corruption sanctions, can only count on Hezbollah as a sure ally. While Frangieh’s candidacy suffers from his weak clout and his ties with Syria. Western and Arab powers seem to favor “competent persons, who have not held positions of power in the past and can benefit from the international community’s support,” according to a diplomat cited recently by L’Orient Today’s political columnist Mounir Rabih.