BEIRUT — The head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, Mohammad Raad, on Monday criticized several political parties for supporting the presidential candidacy of former Finance Minister Jihad Azour, arguing that only seeking to block Hezbollah's favored candidate, Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh.
"The supporters of the 'Resistance' [Hezbollah] are faced with a group of Lebanese who support a candidate they don't want to see as president," Raad argued at a partisan ceremony in South Lebanon. "They are using it solely to prevent the 'Resistance' candidate from attaining this position."
"National partnership is about implementing the interests of all Lebanese without distinction, but others think this partnership is about using another group of Lebanese to put their personal interests first," he added.
Parliament is due to meet on Wednesday for its twelfth session dedicated to the election of a new head of state. The country has been without a president since the end of Michel Aoun's mandate last October.
On Monday morning, Azour — who, until the end of last week, was Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — officially announced his candidacy for the presidency, stressing that this step "is not a challenge for anyone."
Since several opposition parties and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) announced their support for Azour, several Hezbollah officials described his candidacy as "defiant and confrontational."
In a Sunday speech, Frangieh defended his candidacy and criticized his opponent, while saying he was ready to withdraw from the race if a candidate managed to gather around him "a majority" of deputies.