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Future Movement’s Hariri backs
Aoun for Lebanon presidency

Despite the political risk of endorsing the Free Patriotic Movement leader, Hariri stressed that he took his decision even if it hurts his popularity.

Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri endorses Aoun at a press conference. (image via Future News)

BEIRUT – Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri has backed his long-time rival Michel Aoun for the presidency, a dramatic move that could herald the end of a nearly 30-month impasse over the election of a new president.

 

“Based on the points of agreement we reached with Aoun, I announce my support for [the Free Patriotic Movement leader],” the former Lebanese premier and top Sunni political figure announced in a widely-anticipated press conference early Thursday evening.

 

Hariri explained that his political about-turn, which comes after supporting Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea before turning to Marada Movement chief Sleiman Franjieh, stemmed from the “need to protect the Lebanese state and people.”

 

The Future Movement leader warned that the situation in Lebanon was “more serious than it appears” amid “rhetoric that could lead to civil war,” which is what prompted him to push for political settlement in the country that has been beset by gridlock that has seen the cabinet unable to take major decisions while the parliament rarely meets after extending its own term twice.

 

“Many do not approve of this move,” Hariri said in recognition of opponents of his nomination of Aoun within the Future Movement as well as other political parties, namely the Amal Movement, one of Hezbollah’s allies alongside Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement.

 

Despite the political risk of endorsing Aoun, Hariri stressed that he took his decision even if it hurts his popularity.

 

Lebanon’s parliament is scheduled to vote October 31 on the election of a new presidency, with Amal Movement leader Speaker Nabih Berri—who is also speaker of the legislature—vowing that he would not support Aoun, who is backed by Hezbollah as well as the Lebanese Forces.

 

Berri has reacted with particular anger to Hariri and Aoun’s rapprochement, with Al-Akhbar earlier in the week reporting that the important Shiite politician accused Aoun and Hariri of seeking to impose a Sunni-Christian “duopoly” on the country to marginalize the Shiites in an aggression that would ultimately “lead to a civil war.”

 

The Amal Movement leader has made it public that not only will he vote against Aoun, but he will also move into the opposition against any potential Hariri-led cabinet that emerges following the presidential election.

 

Meanwhile, some members of Hariri’s Future Movement have begun to announce that they will go against their party’s leader endorsement of the FPM leader.

 

Fouad Siniora, one of the senior-most figures in the party and a former prime minister, said he would not vote for Aoun, while MPs Farid Makari and Ahmed Fatfat also signaled their intent to present a blank ballot at the upcoming election.

Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri endorses Aoun at a press conference. (image via Future News)

The Future Movement leader warned that the situation in Lebanon was “more serious than it appears."