Lebanese Presidential election session to convene today
The Lebanese election session is set to convene today during a pre-set parliamentary session and the two candidates are former Finance Minister and IMF official Jihad Azour and former Interior Minister and Marada Movement head Suleiman Franjieh.
Today, June 14, the Lebanese Parliament, following seven months of stifling and intertwined political and economic crisis, and a Presidential vacuum, will convene in a new legislative session with the possibility of electing a new President.
The session came after 11 failed attempts to elect a new president. Former President Michel Aoun's term came to an end back in October of 2022 and since then, the nation has been unable to reach an agreement as to who could assume the next Presidential term.
As such, Prime Minister Najib Mikati's transitional cabinet was entrusted with the Presidential duties, as per the constitution.
Opposition interests converge with FPM
The Lebanese opposition, which has vocalized its disapproval of the former President and Free Patriotic Movement leader General Michel Aoun during the so-called October 17 Revolution, announced the nomination of an official in the International Monetary Fund and former minister, Jihad Azour, for president. Azour then became the opponent the first candidate to have been publicly supported, former Lebanese minister, and Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh.
Azour served as the Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund. He served as the Lebanese Minister of Finance between 2005 and 2008 under the government of Fouad Al-Sanioura.
The Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) back in 2013 published the book “Al Ibra Al Mustahil” which translates to "The Impossible Absolution", which accused Al-Sanioura's government, in which Azour served as Financial Minister, of multiple financial scandals.
بخصوص الإبراء المستحيل وبأنّ ازعور ربيب السنيورة... طيّب ما نحنا وحزب الله دخلنا بحكومة برئاسة السنيورة سنة 2008، يعني بعد حرب تموز وبعد 7 ايّار. مندخل وبتدخلوا بحكومة برئاسة السنيورة معليش! ولكن بيصير جهاد ازعور بالرئاسة هو الشيطان؟؟— Gebran Bassil (@Gebran_Bassil) June 13, 2023
Earlier in June, the current leader of the FPM Gebran Bassil declared his movement's support for Azour as President, in clear opposition to Frangieh who was publicly supported by multiple groups including Hezbollah who announced that Frangieh was their preferred Presidential candidate.
Yesterday, however, Bassil, in a speech, noted that "Our disagreement with Hezbollah was about state-building and the Presidency of the Republic, and we tried to develop the mutual understanding we have, but we did not get the proper response, but we still agree on Resistance and the principle of the defense strategy. Therefore, the mutual understanding has not fallen. "
Bassil also warned some members of his political party serving as members of Parliament of the dangers of not abiding by the decision of the Political Movement Council, because it "means they want to dismantle the Free Patriotic Movement."
Frangieh proposes himself Christian and regional leader
Frangieh, on June 11, said that in 2005 and 2018, his name was proposed as a candidate for the presidency, adding that every lawmaker can choose a candidate whom they consider can fulfill their vision for a future Lebanon.
This came during a speech by Franjieh on the 45th anniversary of the Ehden massacre, which took place on June 13, 1978, in which MP and Minister Tony Sleiman Frangieh, his wife and daughter, and a large number of his supporters were massacred by Bashir Gemayel's Phalangist gunmen.
Frangieh is a long-time ally of Damascus and the Lebanese resistance.
Touching on the Lebanese presidency file, Frangieh said he is not ashamed of belonging to a political project, pointing out that his allies know that he would be open to every side if he were president.
Frangieh indicated that the other political party decided to cancel and obstruct the process of electing a new president for the country, affirming, "We are ready for bilateral and comprehensive dialogue without restrictions or conditions in order to solve the Lebanese problem and not exclude anyone."
He said no candidate other than himself was asked about their political projects, such as the defense strategy, the refugee crisis, the Lebanese economy, or other files.
"We pursue a path of a clear and frank relationship with everyone at home and abroad," he added.
Frangieh made it clear that he does not impose himself on any side, stressing that he has no problem with any candidate other than himself being chosen by agreement to save the country.
In conclusion, Frangieh proclaimed "I am Maronite, I am Christian, I am Lebanese, I am patriotic, I am Arab," and noted that he is proud of that belonging.
انا ماروني انا مسيحي انا لبناني انا وطني انا عربي "ع راس السطح".— Sleiman Frangieh (@sleimanfrangieh) June 11, 2023