BEIRUT — Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Sunday called on opposition MPs to rally alongside his party and others behind a single presidential candidate in the vote in parliament set for this fall to elect a new president.
Here’s what we know:
• “Let us not miss this opportunity, as happened in the vote for the deputy speaker of parliament and nomination of the prime minister,” Geagea said, in reference to Elias Bou Saab’s election as deputy speaker on May 31 and Najib Mikati’s designation as premier on Jun. 23.
• Bou Saab — who caucuses with the LF’s fierce rivals, the Free Patriotic Movement and as close ties across Lebanon’s political class — won with 65 votes out of 128, a slim majority that saw him defeat Ghassan Skaff, an independent MP from West Bekaa-Rashaya who was supported by the Progressive Socialist Party.
• Mikati, for his part, won his nomination with a plurality, but less than majority, of votes in his favor from MPs. He defeated International Court of Justice judge Nawaf Salam, who received just 25 votes, including from a handful of opposition MPs. Forty-six votes were cast for a blank ballot, including from the Lebanese Forces.
• In his comments Sunday during a ceremony in the Jbeil village of Maifouq for inducting new members of the LF, Geagea said his party was “ready for dialogue with all opposition parties to reach an agreement on the name of one candidate” for president.
• “Failing to do so will make it easier for the other party [a reference to the March 8 coalition parties of the FPM, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement] to come up with a president affiliated to them,” he said, adding that such a scenario would plunge Lebanon into “six more years of the hell that they put us in.”
• Thirteen MPs close to the Oct. 17, 2019 protest movement were elected to Parliament in May. The LF, which won 19 seats, has styled itself as an opposition party as well along with the Kataeb Party, who won four seats. President Michel Aoun’s term finishes at the end of October, which will prompt a vote in parliament for a new president.