Lebanese Christian parties set demands for next president

BEIRUT: Lebanese political parties are pushing demands on the election of a new Lebanese president before an urgent constitutional deadline later this year.

According to the country’s Constitution, Parliament must convene on the 10th day before the expiration of the President’s term (October 31) to elect a new President, in case the Speaker of Parliament does not hold a session before that date.

Some political circles are discussing the possibility that MP Gebran Bassil – son-in-law of President Michel Aoun and leader of the Free Patriotic Movement – could become the next Lebanese president.

Others believe that Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea or Lebanese army commander General Joseph Aoun could be the next president. Some have proposed electing independent Maronite personalities not affiliated with the conflicting parties, stressing the importance of having a president who avoids internal, regional and international conflicts.

Lebanon had previously fallen into a presidential vacuum for more than two years following the end of former President Michel Suleiman’s term. Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, only came to power after striking a deal with Future Movement leader Saad Hariri. But Hariri later regretted his involvement after Aoun and his political team turned their backs on him.

On Wednesday, the country’s two largest Christian parties outlined their demands for the next president, hinting at a tough election battle ahead.

The CPL issued a statement emphasizing the need to hold the presidential elections within the timeframe provided by the Constitution and in a manner that respects the national political will expressed by the Lebanese public during the recent legislative elections.

“The next president should expedite the passage of the reform laws in parliament to sign the final agreement with the IMF and other reform laws, such as the restoration of funds transferred abroad by completely lifting the banking secrecy of public officials, by reviewing the public sector and rationalizing it, developing the skills of public employees, activating the control bodies to fight against corruption, developing an automation implementation plan, putting into practice e- government, restructure the Banque du Liban and rebuild the banking sector,” the FPM statement said.

On the other hand, FL leader Geagea told a press conference that he would reject a “moderate consensus president”. He added, “We oppose with all our might the election of a president from among the March 8 forces.” The March 8 alliance includes Hezbollah and its allies.

Following a meeting between the LF parliamentary bloc and the party’s central council, Geagea said: “The main factors that have brought us to the current crisis are the confiscation of the strategic decision of the state, mismanagement and corruption. “.

He added: “The main actor behind this crisis is Hezbollah, which has confiscated the strategic decision of Lebanon. He is also directly responsible for mismanagement through smuggling, for example, and his alliance with the country’s corrupt to cover up his actions and illegal stance.

Geagea said, “The presidential election should be the first step on the road to salvation. Otherwise, we will face the worst.

He added that the opposition must agree on a candidate capable of obtaining sovereignty and reforms.

“If the next president is affiliated with the resistance axis, we will face strong Arab isolation. This axis has never been an axis of development and reconstruction.

Geagea said: “How can we agree on a consensual president when we are completely different; a sovereign party and a non-sovereign party? We reject a consensual or centrist president. On the contrary, a president must be elected to resolve the crisis. National unity governments have achieved national unity only in poverty and humiliation. We cannot therefore adopt the same logic for the presidency.

He called on opposition MPs to discuss the issue further and form a committee to agree on a candidate.

Geagea said he was a “natural candidate for the presidency”, but that his candidacy would only be valid if opposition MPs agreed to field a single candidate.

Meanwhile, as Lebanon on Thursday commemorates the second anniversary of the August 4 Beirut port explosion, the World Bank released a report saying, “Lebanon must critically adopt and effectively implement a comprehensive program macroeconomic, financial and sector reforms that prioritize governance, accountability and inclusiveness. The sooner these reforms are initiated, the lower the cost of recovery will be for the Lebanese people.

The report adds: “Public finances in post-civil war Lebanon were an instrument of systematic capture of the country’s resources, as they served the interests of an entrenched political economy. Excessive debt accumulation has been used to create the illusion of stability and build confidence in the macro-financial system to keep deposits flowing. to its citizens. »

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