BEIRUT: Presidential hopeful Samir Geagea said over the weekend he was waiting for his ally, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to endorse his candidacy to the country’s top Christian post, adding that he was not yet the March 14 coalition’s candidate.
“[Former] Prime Minister Saad Hariri has not yet publicly announced that he backs my candidacy to the presidency, bearing in mind that he has once said that Samir Geagea is his candidate for the post,” Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces, told an Algerian radio station.
“Consequently, I am waiting for his endorsement and the backing of the March 14 parties, because Hariri represents an important political force in Lebanon, and a heavyweight in Parliament and on the streets,” he added.
Although Lebanon’s four main Maronite political leaders are natural candidates for the post, Geagea is the only politician who has announced he is running for the presidency.
Media reports said Saturday Speaker Nabih Berri would call for the first round of presidential elections in Parliament on April 16, weeks after Lebanon entered its two month Constitutional deadline to elect a new head of state.
The March 14 group has said it would reach a consensus on a single candidate, but Geagea expressed hope that his allies in the Western-backed coalition would soon back his nomination.
“I am not yet the March 14 [coalition’s] candidate for president but I hope parties come together to discuss my nomination and adopt it,” Geagea, one of the main pillars of the coalition, said.
“We have discussed my candidacy in the past and I have several reasons to believe that I will receive the backing of my allies,” he added.
Asked whether the international community would respond positively to his nomination, Geagea said his party had good ties with Arab and Western states.
“As [part of the] March 14 group and in particular as the Lebanese Forces, we have deep-rooted ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries and Egypt, as well as America, France and the rest of the European countries,” he said.
“I do not think that any of these countries would veto my name because we are in constant contact and have an open dialogue with them,” the Lebanese Forces head added.
A staunch critic of Hezbollah, Geagea reiterated his opposition to the resistance group’s arsenal, saying: “A state cannot be built in the shadow of a mini state that owns its own military organization.”
Geagea has said that he would work on pulling Hezbollah fighters from Syria if he was elected president.