BEIRUT — Deputy Parliament Speaker Elias Bou Saab said Friday that presidential candidate Sleiman Frangieh "is open to a dialogue with all parties," after meeting with the Marada Movement leader near Zgharta, North Lebanon.
Frangieh's candidacy is openly supported by the Amal Movement and Hezbollah, but he is still not a consensus figure in the eyes of Lebanon's political class, especially among the Christian parties.
"I found in Sleiman Frangieh a great openness to reach a dialogue and understanding with all parties, especially since this is the only way to push all the different groups to discuss how to be represented all," said Bou Saab after their Friday meeting.
"As long as there are no preconditions on the part of the different actors — and this is what I saw during my tour — it is possible to establish bridges," continued Bou Saab.
The Deputy Parliament Speaker is currently touring different Lebanese political formations to discuss the presidential election. Bou Saab said the meeting with Franjieh was "positive" and that his candidacy "is open to all, without preconditions.”
Lebanon has been without a president since October 2022.
Earlier in the day Friday, the head of Hezbollah's parliamentary group, Mohammad Raad, once again called for dialogue to select the future head of state.
"Come to an agreement to choose the most suitable president at this stage that involves preserving the interests of all," Raad said.
At the same time, a delegation of centrist members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the Renew Europe group toured with various Lebanese political formations including Kataeb, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and deputies from the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP). The European delegation included Christophe Grudler, the MEP in charge of the Lebanese file.
According to a Kataeb statement issued Friday, the European delegation affirmed the need "to make a breakthrough" on the issue "without imposing the candidate of one camp on the other."
According to the statement, the delegation also said that "the next president must be free and independent of any side."
The meeting was attended by independent MPs including Neemat Frem, as well as Forces of Change MPs Waddah Sadek and Marc Daou and former minister Ziyad Baroud.
The FPM issued a statement adding that "the dispute is not personal with any candidate" and stressed the importance of obtaining "a balanced representation, especially among Christians.”
The European delegation also met with two MPs from the PSP — Bilal Abdallah and Raji Saad — who both "called for accelerating the presidential election through an internal Lebanese agreement," according to a party statement.
Negotiations on the presidential election recently resumed, notably with Saudi Ambassador Walid Boukhari's tour of Lebanon's main political formations. Boukhari met Thursday with the Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai in Bkirki and Friday with former Lebanese prime minister, Tammam Salam.
Many observers believe France is promoting a trade between the election Frangieh and the appointment of Nawaf Salam — former Lebanese ambassador to the UN and current judge at the International Court of Justice— as Lebanon's next prime minister.
Paris denied these claims, and said it "does not have a candidate in Lebanon."
According to other observers, Saudi Arabia is opposed to the candidacy of Sleiman Frangieh.