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Frangieh: The compromise is coming and it's very close

“If we want to apply the theory and logic of President Aoun and the FPM, the Aounist party's natural candidate for the presidency should be Samir Geagea,” said the Marada leader.

Frangieh: The compromise is coming and it's very close

Marada leader Sleiman Frangié, speaking after a mass in memory of the June 13, 1978 massacre, in Ehden, on June 11, 2023. (Photo archives/Nabil Ismaïl)

In a speech on the occasion of the commemoration of the June 13, 1978 massacre in Ehden, Marada leader Sleiman Frangieh spoke at length about the notion of Christianity, in what sounded like messages directed at the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, who has made the “defense of Christian rights” his leading issue. He also felt that a compromise in Lebanon was on the way, and that “it is very close.”

"Being Christian and Maronite in Lebanon means believing in diversity, in the right to be different and in the opinion of others. Being Christian means preserving the free economic system and restoring confidence in the banking sector. Being Christian in Lebanon means giving and sacrificing for Lebanon. And if Lebanon is in danger, we must all, as Lebanese, be united, with one heart," he said.

The Hezbollah-backed presidential candidate – whose candidacy Bassil rejects because he does not represent the country's Christian majority – pointed out that during the First Republic, the Maronites offered Lebanon the best personalities for the presidency: Bechara al-Khoury, Camille Chamoun, Fouad Chehab, Sleiman Frangieh. “Under their tenure, Lebanon enjoyed a time of prosperity and its golden age,” he asserted, noting that Bechara al-Khoury was a minority on the Christian street and that his grandfather was not the strongest Christian in the late 60's. “Those who had the popular majority at the time were Pierre Gemayel and Camille Chamoun. Yet MPs elected Sleiman Frangieh president," he recalled.

Frangieh explained that after the Taif Agreement, the notion of the presidency changed and the nature of the regime evolved. The President became a referee rather than a true head of the executive power. After 2005, former President Michel Aoun's team proposed this equation: “Just as the speaker of parliament is the most representative among Shiites and the Prime Minister is the most representative among Sunnis, the president must be the most representative among Christians. "This equation was translated in 2014 at the Bkirki meeting I attended, and I had clear and frank remarks about what was called the strong president. Despite this, I accepted so that it would not be said that I went against the consensus," he stressed. He added: “I say this in all conscience: If we want to apply the theory and logic of President Aoun and the Free Patriotic Movement, the natural candidate of the Aounist party for the presidency should be the leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea (with the largest Christian parliamentary bloc). So why doesn't the FPM apply this theory today?

Furthermore, the Marada leader felt that “the political crisis in Lebanon will only be resolved with the resolution of the region's problems.” In Lebanon, we have learned that compromise usually comes from outside and translates into an internal equation,” he added. The three possible options for compromise, in our view, are: either our side loses, our side wins, or it ends in a 'neither winner nor loser' situation." He continued, “Although victory for our side is the most likely, we won't accept internal compromise on a ‘winner and loser’ basis, because we don't accept the elimination of anyone.”

He took the view that compromise means that each side chooses the best names from its ranks, with no veto over anyone. “In a compromise, no one can eliminate anyone, but the more we participate as Lebanese in the compromise, the more we limit outside influence,” he declared, adding that today, “the conditions for compromise may not yet be ripe, but we're not far from it.” He concluded: “With all faith and confidence, I say to the Christians and Lebanese that compromise is coming and that it is very close, so there is no need to fear or despair.”

This article originally appeared in French in L'Orient-Le Jour.

In a speech on the occasion of the commemoration of the June 13, 1978 massacre in Ehden, Marada leader Sleiman Frangieh spoke at length about the notion of Christianity, in what sounded like messages directed at the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, who has made the “defense of Christian rights” his leading issue. He also felt that a compromise in Lebanon was on the way,...