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Lebanon News

Fatfat: No presidential election in the offing

Future bloc MP Ahmad Fatfat attends a press conference at the Parliament in Beirut, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Future MP Ahmad Fatfat Monday said the March 14 coalition welcomed any effort to achieve the presidential election but ruled out an early vote.

“March 14 forces are exerting every effort to hold the presidential election,” Fatfat told reporters at his home in the northern city of Tripoli. “We welcome any positive effort in this regard.”

Lebanon has been without a head of state since former President Michel Sleiman's term ended in May 25, with lawmakers botching several voting attempts due to lack of consensus.

Fatfat, however, saw no chance of an early election.

“There is no [immediate] prospect of the election of a new president,” he said, dismissing local newspaper reports that a new head of state could emerge in September.

Fatfat accused Hezbollah of having an “ultimate interest at this stage” to keep the presidential seat vacant in order to maintain their upper hand on Lebanon.

He also criticized MP Michel Aoun for submitting a draft law suggesting electing the president via popular vote.

“I’m not sure what Gen. Aoun wants. Either he becomes the president or he will accept nothing ... and he hides behind Hezbollah to prevent the election of a new president,” Fatfat said.

“This is why I don’t expect [Aoun] or Hezbollah to be convinced of any initiative launched by Speaker Nabih Berri or MP Walid Jumblatt.”

Berri and Jumblatt had said Sunday that they were working together on a political compromise to break the presidential stalemate.

Fatfat also hailed March 14’s flexibility on the presidential election.

“Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has previously announced his willingness to pull out of the presidential race in favor of a personality that supports March 14’s fundamental principles,” he said.

“This proves March 14’s flexibility in accepting any initiative, after having mulling it of course.”

Speaking on ISIS, Fatfat slammed Jumblatt over his remarks, criticizing him for commenting in defense of Hezbollah but not acknowledging other remarks that he deemed harmful.

“Perhaps we should wait for another statement from MP Jumblatt as he did not respond to remarks made by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil who said ISIS stretches from Mosul to Baabda,” Fatfat said, adding that he “regrets” that Jumblatt did not see that Bassil’s remarks have harmed the Lebanese government, of which the Druze MP is a member.

Jumblatt had said he disagrees with statements saying Hezbollah and the Islamist State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) were similar.

Fatfat stressed that there cannot be peace and stability in Lebanese as long as Hezbollah continues to fight in Syria.

 

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Summary

Future MP Ahmad Fatfat Monday said the March 14 coalition welcomed any effort to achieve the presidential election but ruled out an early vote.

Fatfat, however, saw no chance of an early election.

Fatfat accused Hezbollah of having an "ultimate interest at this stage" to keep the presidential seat vacant in order to maintain their upper hand on Lebanon.

Berri and Jumblatt had said Sunday that they were working together on a political compromise to break the presidential stalemate.

Fatfat also hailed March 14's flexibility on the presidential election.


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