BEIRUT — Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah said Sunday that the new informal presidential candidate for Lebanon is a "confrontation and challenge candidate," who "will not make it" to the presidency. Fadlallah added that Hezbollah "will prevent them [the parties opposed to it] from achieving their goals."
Former Finance Minister and current head of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund Jihad Azour has for several days been repeatedly mentioned as the opposition camp's candidate of choice in agreement with the FPM.
These blocs' backing of Azour is aimed at blocking the road to Baabda for Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh, who is supported by Amal and Hezbollah.
"The new candidate for confrontation and challenge will not arrive, and we welcome dialogue," Fadlallah said during a Hezbollah memorial ceremony held in Haris village in South Lebanon.
"The other team is trying to impose a president who bears the characteristic of confrontation … while they are under the illusion that they can lead him to the presidency, and we tell them not to tire yourselves and waste time, because the candidate of challenge and confrontation will not reach Baabda, whatever his name is."
Meanwhile, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Gebran Bassil announced Saturday night that his party has converged with other parliamentary blocs on Azour as its preferred candidate for Lebanon's presidency, saying the FPM will vote for Azour "instead of casting a blank ballot," the state-run National News Agency reported.
Speaking following the reports of the FPM's endorsement, Fadlallah said, "In exchange for our eagerness for dialogue and understanding to achieve the presidential election, the team that raised the slogan of bringing a confrontational president insists on denying reality and the reality of internal balances and the composition of the parliament … and this does not change anything from the nature of that team’s project except for circumstantial alignments and complicating matters."
"There is no hope for them and their new candidate in their open game, as it is part of their political battle in which they are trying to gain strength from abroad," the Hezbollah MP said. "We will prevent them from achieving their goals, and they will not be able to impose their candidate on the rest of the Lebanese, neither constitutionally nor politically, nor through the media."