BEIRUT — Zgharta MP Michel Moawad affirmed Tuesday evening that he will not withdraw his candidacy for the presidency in Lebanon and that he "will fight until the end."
Moawad had successively obtained 36 votes, then 44 and then 39, during the latest parliamentary sessions aimed at finding a successor to former President Michel Aoun, whose term ended on October 31. Moawad's scores during the election were insufficient in both the first round of the voting process and the second, each requiring respectively 86 and 65 votes out of a total of 128.
"I will not withdraw and will fight to the end," said Moawad in a televised interview on LBCI TV channel.
He then said: "Mr. Jumblatt proposed to go and visit [Parliament Speaker] Nabih Berri; I told him that my goal is to bring together the opposition, then I will go to Mr. Berry to negotiate."
The leader of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Walid Joumblatt is trying to reconcile Hezbollah and Amal, which Berri heads, with traditional opposition groups including Kataeb and the Lebanese Forces — some of the latter of these groups calling for the election of a candidate who will stand up to Hezbollah.
'I am a rescue candidate'
"My decision to run as a candidate is independent," Moawad continued, while the Lebanese Forces and several members of the traditional opposition groups support him. "I respect the Commander-in-Chief of the army Joseph Aoun, but I will fight my battle to the end," Michel Moawad added, responding to comments circulated in the press that his candidacy would be abandoned to prepare the election of the head of the Lebanese Army for the presidency.
"I am a rescue candidate and I am not ashamed of my candidacy," he insisted. "We cannot continue to promote a consensus candidate who has no clear position and cannot deal with the issues," he continued.
Hezbollah and its allies, the Free Patriotic Movement and Amal movement, have been recently calling for the election of a "consensus" candidate, whom they oppose to a defiant candidate.
Moawad also mentioned the candidacy of the head of Marada Sleiman Frangieh, whose name is also circulating.
"I did not run against Sleiman Frangieh. These are not municipal elections," Moawad insisted referring to the fact that he and Frangieh are from the same district. "He is part of the "Mumanaa" [pro-Syrian March 8 camp] that has brought the country to destruction," said Moawad. "We have two choices in front of us, to come up with a gray candidate of consensus that gives credit to Hezbollah or to gather the sovereignist forces around a sovereignist candidate."
Moawad also claimed to have held discussions with Forces of Change MPs Marc Daou and Najat Saliba, who did not give him their votes in previous sessions.
"Waddah Sadek supported me after we discussed a roadmap together," he said regarding Sadek, who recently left the Forces of Change parliamentary bloc, along with MP Michel Doueihy.
Also on Tuesday evening, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, to whom Michel Moawad is opposed, called for a "consensus candidate," and stressed that he is "not a candidate" in this election, while his detractors consider him an unofficial candidate.
With the absence of two-thirds of Parliament or a clear majority, the different political parties find themselves forced to agree on a name for the presidency. On Tuesday, the country entered a total executive vacuum, with no president and a caretaker cabinet for the first time in Lebanon's history.