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Hezbollah chief reaffirms support for Aoun

"As long as you are a candidate, we are with you," Nasrallah told the General

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. (AFP)

Hezbollah continues to support the presidential candidacy of Free Patriotic Movement leader Gen. Michel Aoun and will continue to do so as long as Aoun wishes to remain a candidate, the party's Secretary-General Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah said in a 74-minute televised speech Friday night.

 

"As long as you are a candidate, we are with you," Nasrallah affirmed, addressing Aoun directly. "We're ready to do whatever we can to get you to the presidency."

 

Echoing remarks made by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri earlier in the week regarding whether Hezbollah would force its allies in the March 8 coalition, including Berri's Amal Movement, which currently backs Marada Movement chief Sleiman Franjieh's candidacy, to vote for Aoun, Nasrallah said, "our relationship with our allies is not like that."

 

"We and our allies have our differences, but we don't impose things on them. Neither of us would accept that we force them to do something. Those who believe we do are insulting our allies."

 

The Hezbollah leader discussed several previous stages of development on what he called the "presidential file," beginning with contacts between Aoun and the Future Movement in 2014. 

 

"We told Aoun we'd be happy if this worked out," said Nasrallah. In the end, however, "Saudi Arabia vetoed it."

 

He then turned to the meeting between Future leader Saad al-Hariri and Franjieh in 2015, saying Hezbollah expressed certain reservations to Franjieh about the meeting before it occurred, but agreed the Party would discuss the prospect of the Marada leader's presidency with Aoun, their declared candidate, if it appeared serious.

 

"Maybe he'd accept it, maybe he wouldn't. We just said we would have a discussion."

 

Nasrallah then turned to the most recent event, the surprise nomination of Aoun last Monday by his wartime foe, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. Denying claims that Hezbollah was upset by the Christian leaders' reconciliation, Nasrallah described at as a "positive development" and said the choice between the two remaining candidates - Aoun, backed by Geagea and Hezbollah; and Franjieh, backed by Future and Amal, among others - could only be favorable to March 8.

 

"Within March 14, one essential member supports Aoun, while another essential member supports Franjieh. Is this a loss for us, or a gain?" he asked, smiling. "The president will not be from March 14, but from March 8. The disagreement is only over the person."

 

In his concluding remarks, Nasrallah rejected allegations - reported by NOW earlier this week - that Hezbollah does not truly seek Aoun's successful nomination, but rather favors the vacuum caused by the stalemate between the General and Franjieh. 

 

"If there was a guarantee that a session would be convened to elect General Aoun tomorrow, we would go down to parliament and vote for Aoun - with a package [deal] or without one."

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke Friday night on Lebanon's deadlocked presidential elections. (AFP)

"Within March 14, one essential member supports Aoun, while another essential member supports Franjieh. Is this a loss for us, or a gain?" he asked, smiling.

  • Beiruti

    Sure, it is a win-win for Hezbollah, or is it? With Hezbollah's backing no M8 candidate had any chance of winning election, or even attracting a quorum. Now that M14 has nominated 2 M8 candidates, the deck is shuffled a bit, not much. If there can be a quorum, Aoun may win, but he would be beholding to Geagea for getting him the office, not to Hezbollah. And if Frangieh wins, assuming there can be a quorum, he would be beholding to Mustaqbel and to Hariri who would be installed as his PM, again not to Hezbollah. This is bad news for Hezbollah because Hezbollah is playing for one of two outcomes: 1. Continued paralysis of the process leading to collapse of the Taif Regime and clear the way for the institution of the 1/3 1/3 1/3 ruling formula to further marginalize Christians and Sunnis. or, 2. Election of a president that is totally beholding to and is the captive of Hezbollah. Both goals are frustrated by this turn of events leaving Hezbollah with only the choice of boycotting the next electoral session where only its allies are the candidates!! Thus Hezbollah is exposed as a manipulator, which we all know that it is, but it will be exposed as such and may well lose its MOU with Aoun regardless of what it does with this election. Aoun could reject the Hezbollah alliance if Hezbollah obstructs Aoun's election.

    February 1, 2016