BEIRUT — Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea has ruled out the likelihood of a presidential election in the near future, despite regional efforts to break the political deadlock that has persisted since the end of Michel Aoun's presidential term last October.
In an interview with online media platform Trend Beirut published Sunday, the Christian leader "ruled out the possibility of holding presidential elections in the near future, despite Saudi and Qatari efforts, because the worm is in the fruit," referring, the site says, to internal differences and the absence of consensus on a candidate.
House Speaker Nabih Berri proposed a week-long dialogue between parliamentary leaders, followed by an open session to elect a head of state, but opposition parties, notably the LF, rejected this proposal.
Diplomatic efforts have recently been stepped up to find a way out of this impasse. During his latest visit to Beirut, France's special envoy to Lebanon Jean-Yves Le Drian, with backing from Riyadh, proposed holding political "discussions" or a "debate" to pave the way for the election.
A meeting of the Group of Five (France, USA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt) took place in New York Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, following those in Paris and Doha. No communiqué was issued, and the roundtable was the scene of disagreement between the participating powers. Riyadh and Washington reportedly demanded that Paris set a timetable for its Lebanon initiative, and threatened sanctions against those responsible for the stalemate.
The Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Walid Bukhari, said Saturday. Ahead of a planned visit to Beirut in early October by the Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohammad ben Abdel Aziz al-Khulaïfi, Bukhari remarked that "lasting solutions must come from within Lebanon, not from abroad," insisting that the presidential election is "a sovereign matter that the Lebanese must decide for themselves."