BEIRUT: Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel is expected to declare his candidacy for the presidential election soon, making him the second presidential hopeful from the March 14 coalition.
“There is an arrangement for the Kataeb party to declare Gemayel as their candidate for the presidential election by next week,” Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi told The Daily Star Thursday.
Azzi’s comments come a day after Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea elaborated on his broad campaign platform before dozens of party cadres and representatives of various political parties, including the Kataeb, at his Maarab residence.
Parliament has until May 25, the end of President Michel Sleiman’s six-year-term, to vote for a new head of state.
Speaker Nabih Berri has called for a parliamentary session next week to elect a new president. But chances of achieving such progress appear low as no candidate appears capable of securing two-thirds of the vote by MPs.
According to Azzi, a senior Kataeb official, Gemayel's candidacy does not contradict that of Geagea.
“This is not a problem," he insisted. "We will have diversity among candidates and we might later reach some exchange of votes or a certain agreement to have a shared candidate.”
“This is all part of the democratic process," he added.
Although Geagea says he is confident his allies in the March 14 coalition will endorse his candidacy, the group has not yet thrown its weight behind any name.
Azzi explained that the March 14 coalition is in need of a moderate candidate that can win some votes from the March 8 rival camp, and that Gemayel possesses these qualities.
“The March 14 needs a candidate capable of attracting votes from the March 8 group; the votes of the March 14 lawmakers in Parliament would not be enough to elect the new president,” he said.
“We need a president that can cross alliances in the country, not only within the March 14.”
Geagea is known for his staunch criticism to Hezbollah, the leading party in the March 8 coalition, while Gemayel is known for keeping channels of communication with his rivals open.