BEIRUT: The Lebanese Forces announced Friday its leader, Samir Geagea, as its candidate for the presidency.
“The Lebanese Forces Executive Body unanimously agreed to nominate party leader Samir Geagea for the presidential elections,” LF MP George Adwan said following a party meeting.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Farid Makari hailed the nomination of Geagea, describing his chances of winning the support of the rest of the March 14 coalition as "very high."
“I am part of March 14 ... and Geagea is certainly a key figure in March 14 and he has all our respect and love,” Makari said from Parliament.
Geagea has pledged to prioritize the controversial issue of Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria if elected to the post.
Earlier in the day, Geagea said the meeting at the LF headquarters in Maarab, north Beirut, aimed at discussing a decision “that will be a critical juncture in the history of Lebanon, since the situation in Lebanon is constantly deteriorating.”
Geagea also reportedly criticized Hezbollah without naming the party in his opening remarks.
“Lebanon’s borders are no longer clearly defined due to the wide-scale infiltration of armed groups back and forth to fight in Syria,” he said, according to the National News Agency.
The LF leader is a staunch critic of Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrian regime, and is also a key pillar of the Western-backed March 14 coalition.
He refused to join Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s “national interest government” due to Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syria crisis.
Geagea, 62, became the head of the Lebanese Forces militia in 1986. He hails from the north Lebanon village of Bsharri.
He was arrested in 1994 over his suspected involvement in a bomb attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church the same year. He was also sentenced to life imprisonment over his alleged involvement in political assassinations during the Civil War and was not released until July 2005, when Parliament passed an amnesty law.
Geagea says he was the target of an attempted assassination in 2012 in his Maarab residence, and has accused the Syrian regime and its allies in Lebanon of being behind the killings of political figures in the country.