BEIRUT — Gebran Bassil was Friday evening re-elected head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the party — founded by former president Michel Aoun and led since 2015 by his son-in-law and Batroun MP — announced in a statement. Bassil ran unopposed.
His re-election comes after years of vocal dissent within Aounist ranks, when several of the party's executive officials have left party because of their differences with Bassil.
In its press release, the FPM explained that "after examining the candidacy of MP Gebran Bassil for the post of FPM president, as well as the candidacy of Martine Najm Koutayli for the vice-president post in charge of political affairs, and Ghassan Khoury for that of the vice-president in charge of administrative affairs, the committee in charge of supervising the elections has decided to accept these candidacies."
"At 9:15 P.M., the committee consulted the only list of candidates submitted on Aug. 25 and thus announced the automatic victory" of the three candidates.
"Their terms of office will run from Sept. 15, 2023 to Sept. 15, 2027," the statement added.
Gebran Bassil announced his candidacy on Aug. 14 in a video published on X.
In the video, he encouraged "any FPM member who wishes to do so to present his candidacy," in particular "if he is not satisfied with my way of leading the FPM politically" and "if he has a better program."
"I call for a democratic competition and will obviously accept the result."
No one in the FPM presented their candidacy to face Bassil.
First elected in 2015, the Christian leader was automatically reappointed head of the Aounist party in the absence of a rival in 2019. The same year, he chose May Khoreiche and Martine Najm Koutayli as his vice-presidents. They succeeded Nicolas Sehnaoui and Rommel Saber. Before 2015, the FPM was still chaired by Michel Aoun.
Autumn 2023 is set to be the season of internal political party elections. After the FPM, the party's main opponent on the Christian scene, Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces, announced it had scheduled internal elections for Sunday Oct. 29.
The elections are expected to appoint a party president, vice-president and 11 members of the executive committee, a kind of decision-making body, for a six-year term.
At the end of June, Druze MP Taymour Joumblatt succeeded his father Walid, who was automatically elected head of the Progressive Socialist Party, following a ballot which resulted in a new executive board for the party.