BEIRUT — The Lebanese Forces will not oppose army commander Gen. Joseph Aoun becoming president, the party's leader Samir Geagea said in an interview published Wednesday, as Lebanon enters a fourth month with no head of state.
Speaking to the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai, Geagea said: "We prefer that the president be a political figure. Electing Gen. Aoun requires a constitutional amendment." The Lebanese constitution currently dictates that military personnel wishing to run for office must resign from their jobs at least two years before the start of a presidential race, which, this time around, began September 2022.
"We are not putting a veto over him," Geagea added. "If there is a majority of 86 votes [out of a total 128 MPs] to amend the constitution in order to elect Gen. Aoun, we will not oppose that and will vote for him."
"If the problem [of the presidential vacancy] is to be solved by electing him, in this particular case, we don't have a problem," Geagea said.
Asked about comments made by the Amal-Hezbollah political camp in which they would elect Marada leader Sleiman Frangieh as president without the two main Christian blocs, the LF and the Free Patriotic Movement, Geagea said: "Anyone who thinks that they can elect a president in spite of the majority of the Christians is wrong. This is not a way to act when everyone knows the reality of constitutional positions."
The 1943 National Pact, an unwritten agreement, dictates that Lebanon's president must be a Maronite, while the prime minister should be a Sunni and the Parliament speaker a Shiite.
Regarding presidential frontrunner Zgharta MP Michel Mouawad, who has been LF's preferred candidate during previous presidential election sessions, Geagea said that their decision to vote for Mouawad "is still ongoing, derived from our desire to elect a president who is capable of making a positive impact on Lebanon's situation."
On Tuesday, Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Juomblatt's son, Chouf MP Teymour Joumblatt, visited Maronite patriarch Bechara al-Rai in Bkirki, where he suggested Gen. Aoun, former MP Salah Honein and the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia director, Jihad Azour as presidential contenders. He described Gen. Aoun as being "in the lead."
Asked about whether PSP would continue to support Mouawad for the presidency, Walid Joumblatt told L'Orient-Le Jour: "We have tried the Michel Moawad card, which did not succeed. We are now working for a middle solution."
For the first time in its history, Lebanon is without a president and fully empowered government in spite of 11 presidential election sessions dedicated to electing the country's next head of state.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that, under the Lebanese constitution, army personnel must have resigned from their jobs at least six months before the start of a presidential race in order to run for office. The correct period of time is two years.