BEIRUT — The head of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Joumblatt, is stepping down from the party’s presidency as well as from the current leadership council, the PSP announced in a statement Thursday.
Joumblatt became the PSP's president in 1977, following the assassination of his father and two years after the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90). He has held this position without interruption since.
“Joumblatt called for an electoral general conference on June 25, 2023, and instructed the General Secretariat to complete the necessary preparations in accordance with the rules and approved mechanisms, and to issue circulars related to the dates of acceptance of nomination applications [for future candidates],” the statement explained.
The statement also noted that Joumblatt had called on the party's General Secretariat to announce “the deadline for withdrawal, all conditions related to the electoral process, and to prepare a list of members to be invited to a general conference, and send out invitations to them.”
PSP MP Bilal Abdallah told L’Orient Today that the timing of Joumblatt’s decision is a personal one.
He noted, however, that party officials “were not surprised by the decision because he had announced it a few years ago, but the fast-paced events in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the financial collapse kept stalling the decision.”
In March 2017, on the 40th anniversary of the death of Kamal Joumblatt, Walid's father and the founder of the PSP, the party leader symbolically placed the black and white checkered keffiyeh scarf on the shoulders of his son Teymour in front of a crowd present at the family's residence in Moukhtara, thus designating him as his successor.
Since then, it has been Teymour who has run in parliamentary elections and who leads the party's parliamentary group.
“Joumblatt has been pushing for reforms within the party, bringing in new faces, reinforcing the role of women, and focusing on the youth because the PSP is meant to have continuity, and reforms,” Abdallah also said, stating that Joumblatt's decision to step down falls into this scope of work.
Abdallah refused to give any more information regarding the electoral process for Joumblatt's succession.
Distance from controversies
A source close to the Druze leader told L'Orient-Le Jour that with this withdrawal, which has been considered several times in recent years, Joumblatt wants "to leave politics and pass the torch to the younger generation."
"It is also a way to distance himself from the current controversies concerning the presidency," the source added.
Joumblatt has frequently called for the election of new president of Lebanon. Speaking with Al-Akhbar last week, Joumblatt renewed criticism of the candidacy of Marada Movement head Sleiman Frangieh. Hezbollah and Amal support Frangieh for president, while their opponents, including Joumblatt's party, have long supported Michel Moawad. The parties opposing Frangieh's candidacy are now looking for another consensual candidate.
This intention to give his son the last word on political issues had been mentioned several times in recent years by the PSP leader. In early May, after a meeting in Ain al-Tineh with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Joumblatt said in response to political questions that "the future is in Teymour."
According to the same source, this is the first time in several generations that a Joumblatt has left the position of zaim of the Druze community during his lifetime to allow a successor to take up the role.
"Before him, they all stayed until they were killed," the source added, recalling that this happened with Joumblatt's father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Political retirement would also allow Joumblatt, according to the source, "time to write his memoirs in French."
BEIRUT — The head of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Joumblatt, is stepping down from the party’s presidency as well as from the current leadership council, the PSP announced in a statement Thursday.Joumblatt became the PSP's president in 1977, following the assassination of his father and two years after the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-90). He has held this position...