Four days after Sidon MP Mustafa Saad’s passing, Maarouf Saad, the late MP’s eldest son, announced he was supporting the candidacy of his uncle, Osama Saad, as his father’s successor in Parliament.
Maarouf Saad added in a statement Saturday that the decision, which was made by the Popular Nasserite Organization (PNO), was an “internal” one.
Maarouf Saad said his father had taught him the importance of preserving high standards and expressed hope that the organization’s members would respect that principle.
He also expressed hope that Osama Saad, an Egypt-trained pediatrician and vice-president of the PNO, would follow his brother’s political line and urged Sidon residents to support him.
Osama Saad is also expected to head the PNO, founded by his father, Maarouf Saad.
Before his death, Mustafa Saad reportedly expressed his wish that his brother succeed him to one of two Sunni seats in Sidon. Bahiya Hariri occupies the other.
The law stipulates that a by-election take place 60 days after the death of an MP.
A Mustafa Saad campaign official, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Daily Star Sunday that Mustafa Saad had arranged the succession of his brother prior to his death.
The official added that the late MP had worked to strengthen his brother’s relationships with the Syrian leadership and President Emile Lahoud.
The official also said that the visit of a Syrian delegation representing Syrian President Bashar Assad and headed by the chief of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon, Major General Ghazi Kenaan, had offered Damascus’ blessings for the Osama Saad’s candidacy.
The official Syrian approval of the candidate was relayed during the delegation’s visit to Sidon Saturday to pay their condolences to the family.
Meanwhile, sources close to Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said the premier’s visit on the same day to extend his condolences indicated that he supported Osama Saad’s candidacy.
The sources attributed the conciliatory position to the short length of time remaining on Saad’s term, adding that the situation would differ during the next parliamentary elections, in 2005.
The Saad family home in Sidon continued to receive visitors over the weekend, including Speaker Nabih Berri, Sidon MP Bahiya Hariri, Economy Minister Basil Fuleihan and Culture Minister Ghassan Salameh.
Former President Elias Hrawi, former minister Michel Edde, Journalists Union president Melhem Karam, several current and former MPs, and other social and religious figures also paid their condolences.
The mourners included a delegation from the French Embassy, the Iranian Embassy, the charge d’affaires of the Algerian Embassy and the head of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Gebran Araiji.
In addition, a delegation from the Free Patriotic Movement, led by retired General Nadim Lteif, representing the former army commander, General Michel Aoun, extended the group’s condolences.