BEIRUT — Head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, Mohammad Raad, said Saturday that his party supports a presidential candidate but has not “closed the door” on other potential candidates and urged the other political actors to “put forward their candidates for discussion.”
“There is no way to accomplish the presidential election except with the understanding of everyone involved, and we supported a presidential candidate, but we did not close the door. We called on others and urged them to put forward their candidate, and we called on them to discuss, but there are those who deny us the right to support a presidential candidate and want to impose the president they want and accuse others of trying to impose the president they want,” Raad said from the south Lebanon town of Qaaqaaiyet El Snoubar, during a memorial ceremony held for the late ex-prisoner Samir Tohme.
Hezbollah and its ally the Amal Movement support the candidacy of Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Friday during a press conference in Beirut that Tehran will support the election of anyone in Lebanon "who will accede to the presidency by consensus."
"We encourage the completion of the political process," Amir-Abdollahian said. "We believe that the influential political forces in Lebanon have the capacity and skills to continue the political process and elect a president."
Abdollahian said Thursday that his country, an ally of Hezbollah, is committed to the triptych "army, people, resistance," reiterating Hezbollah's slogan. He also said that Tehran is ready to support "any agreement" between the various Lebanese political actors that could unblock the presidential election.
The election of a president “will only be achieved by mutual understanding between the Lebanese,” Raad said Saturday, noting that “the presidential election must be accomplished as soon as possible.”
The country has been without a president since the end of former head of state Michel Aoun's term of office on Oct. 31
Raad said that “if each party entrenches itself behind the votes it possesses, the election of a president will not be achieved in this country, and we must come to an agreement to choose the best fit at this stage for this country, and choose someone who does not stir up enmities and divisions, does not incite groups of Lebanese against each other, and does not provoke this team against that team.”
"We want [a president] who bears the responsibility, so that the Lebanese reconcile with each other and present an example of this tolerance and reconciliation,” Raad continued. "We do not want a person to come carrying a gun and ‘harm’ some Lebanese. We do not want someone whose history is bloody ..."
Lebanon has been without a president for nearly six months. Eleven parliamentary sessions, organized between September and January, have failed to elect Aoun's successor, due to a lack of compromise among Lebanon's political parties.
Some commentators claim that Frangieh has the support of Paris as part of a barter that would allow the election of a president close to the Iranian axis in exchange for the appointment of a prime minister supported by Riyadh.
For its part Paris denies that it has a preferred presidential candidate in Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and the main Christian parties in Lebanon have indicated their opposition to such a deal.
Some observers see the agreement reached last month between Riyadh and Tehran as an opening for a possible election of the Marada leader. The Saudi monarchy and Iran severed diplomatic relations in 2016, but announced March 10 that they would restore ties and reopen their respective embassies.