BEIRUT — Forces of Change MPs Paula Yacoubian (Forces of Change/Beirut I) and Najat Saliba (Forces of Change/Chouf) announced on Tuesday their support for candidate Jihad Azour in Wednesday's presidential election session in Parliament.
It will be the 12th such session after all the previous ones failed due to a lack of political agreement and loss of quorum.
"We support Jihad Azour's candidacy because he believes in the logic of the state, and is capable of bringing Lebanon back into the Arab fold and cooperating with the international community," said Saliba.
Lebanon has been without a president since the end of Michel Aoun's term on Oct. 31, 2022.
Traditionally, the head of state is a member of the Maronite community.
"We have heard the voices of those who elected us, discussed the options and will announce what we have agreed with Jihad Azour," said Yacoubian. "Political realism urges us to make the best possible decision. The dream president doesn't exist yet. That's why Najat Saliba and I will support Jihad Azour," she added.
Under the Lebanese constitution, the president must be elected by 86 votes (out of 128 MPs) in the first round of voting, while a simple majority of 65 votes is required in subsequent rounds. Yacoubian called on MPs to attend successive electoral sessions without leaving Parliament in order to elect a president. "The [presidential] vacuum is the real enemy of the country, not a possible future president," she said.
Several opposition parties, and the majority of Christian MPs, have announced their support for Azour, who made his candidacy official on Monday. Sleiman Frangieh, leader of the Marada Movement, is backed by Hezbollah and its ally Amal. Several independent MPs could vote in favor of Frangieh.
Meanwhile, MP Ayoub Hmayed (Amal/Bint Jbeil) said on Tuesday that "no postponement of the electoral session has been discussed with Parliament Speaker Berri."
Speaking to the Al-Liwaa newspaper Tuesday, Berri said the parliamentary session "will take place on time, unless the Maronite Patriarch Bechara al0Rai asks for it to be postponed."