BEIRUT — "So far, our candidate is Michel Moawad," Lebanese Forces MP Sethrida Geagea said Tuesday, in Bkirki, after a meeting with Maronite patriarch Bechara al-Rai.
Since the beginning of Lebanon's presidential election period last September, Samir Geagea's LF has supported Zgharta MP Michel Moawad to succeed Michel Aoun, whose mandate ended October 31, leaving the presidency vacant.
Recently, Geagea said he would not oppose having the presidency filled by Army commander-in-chief Joseph Aoun, who is allegedly backed by several foreign governments. "We do not veto him. If there is a majority of 86 votes [out of a total of 128 MPs] to amend the Constitution and elect General Aoun, we will not oppose it and we will vote for him," Geagea said last week.
A constitutional amendment is necessary for the election of Joseph Aoun, as the Constitution prohibits top civil servants, magistrates and equivalent positions in other administrations from holding office until two years after their resignation or retirement.
Sethrida Geagea said Tuesday that "so far, our candidate is Michel Moawad," adding: "We asked the patriarch to help push for the election of a president of the republic," according to the LF website. She appealed "to the deputies of [pro-sovereignty] parties, MPs of change and independents ... to show solidarity in order to achieve the election of a [pro-sovereignty] president, savior and reformer as soon as possible."
Sethrida Geagea also thanked the head of the Progressive Socialist Party Walid Jumblatt "for his initiative." The Druze leader sent Hezbollah a list of consensus candidates, including Joseph Aoun, former MP Salah Honein and Jihad Azour, the Middle East and North Africa director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"We would have preferred that he [Jumblatt] coordinate with us for this initiative to succeed," Geagea concluded. "Especially since we learned that [Parliament Speaker] Nabih Berri does not want to drop Sleiman Frangieh" the Hezbollah-allied Marada party head.
Faced with a presidential deadlock, the Maronite Patriarch has been working for weeks with Christian forces to try to find a solution, but the initiative seems to be stalling before calling Christian MPs to a meeting to ensure its success.