Lebanon News

Jumblatt undecided on presidential candidate

Walid Jumblatt attends a ceremony in Beirut, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said in comments published Friday that he is still undecided on which candidate he will endorse for the presidency as Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad indirectly warned against controversial candidates.

“I will choose [a candidate] at the last minute after consulting my conscience and my partners,” he told Al-Ousbou Al-Arabi magazine.

“I will consult Speaker Nabih Berri first, the Future Movement and other sides,” Jumblatt said.

“I will not declare anything about the subject and I prefer we have [announced] candidates with clear economic and social platforms.”

Jumblatt also denied media reports that he would not vote for Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea or Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun.

“I never said that,” he said.

Jumblatt, head of the National Struggle Front bloc, is seen as the kingmaker in the nation’s political landscape as his support for one of the major coalitions can tip the balance in its favor.

The two-month constitutional deadline for electing a new president started on March 25 and Parliament is set to meet next Wednesday to elect a new president.

Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea, a March 14 coalition leader, has announced his candidacy, saying his platform would focus on strengthening the state and combating the proliferation of arms in the country.

Another March 14 leader, Kataeb head Amine Gemayel, is also expected to announce his candidacy while MP Michel Aoun, Hezbollah’s main Christian ally, has yet to join the race.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Raad, head of the Hezbollah parliamentary bloc, said his party would support a presidential candidate who defends the resistance.

“We want a candidate who will support and protect the resistance strategy and who is keen on the unity of the Lebanese people,” Raad said during a memorial service in south Lebanon.

“We advice politicians to be wise and refrain from embarking on miscalculated adventures," he said, apparently referring to problematic nominees. "What is needed is to help the country pass through this phase as we preserve its sovereignty."





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