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Lebanon News

Local, international efforts to break political impasse

File - Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, right, receives U.S. ambassador to Lebanon David Hale in Beirut, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

MP Walid Jumblatt encountered a pessimistic mood during his latest meeting with French President Francois Hollande after the failure of states to pressure their Lebanese allies towards quickly electing a new head of state.

Jumblatt relayed this pessimism through his envoy Wael Abou Faour to Speaker Nabih Berri.

Diplomatic sources in Lebanon stressed the importance of the internal security plan, and revealed a joint U.S.-European effort that reaffirms international support for maintaining Lebanon’s stability and filling the presidential vacuum.

These diplomatic sources said there is an American effort in parallel with the French and Vatican efforts in the Lebanese political arena. It is being promoted by U.S. Ambassador David Hale in coordination with Berri, and aims to find a solution that appeals to all the Christian factions, including Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun.

Such a solution would also need to satisfy the Future Movement as the leading Sunni faction in Lebanon and, and would require political cover from Arab states including Egypt, and from Iran.

But sources say the local, regional and international situation does not provice cause for optimism, with the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program stumbling and the impasse in Iraq, where parliamentarians have failed to form a government of national unity to combat the crisis there.

The sources said former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry briefly discussed the presidential election at their latest meeting, with Hariri insisting that he prefers to listen to the opinion of the Christian parties in the election, followed by the opinion of all the political factions, since the presidency is for all the Lebanese, and Lebanon can only be ruled through consensus and all-inclusive compromise.

Kerry welcomed Hariri’s position and considered it a primary foundation for the international effort aimed at maintaining stability in Lebanon, reiterating that while the U.S. would rather not see the election of a president close to Hezbollah, it would not veto such a choice if there were a consensus around him.

Kerry also said the U.S. administration looks positively on France’s mediation in urging an election to be held as soon as possible, and supports France’s efforts, since they remain within the international agreements aimed at maintaining stability in Lebanon.

The question that has gone unanswered since the end of former President Michel Sleiman’s term in May is: who is the consensus figure that Lebanon’s Christians will agree on, along with the Future Movement, Hezbollah, Speaker Berri, Jumblatt and regional and international powers? It is a difficult mission, and the answer may not be near.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 08, 2014, on page 3.

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Summary

Diplomatic sources in Lebanon stressed the importance of the internal security plan, and revealed a joint U.S.-European effort that reaffirms international support for maintaining Lebanon's stability and filling the presidential vacuum.

Kerry welcomed Hariri's position and considered it a primary foundation for the international effort aimed at maintaining stability in Lebanon, reiterating that while the U.S. would rather not see the election of a president close to Hezbollah, it would not veto such a choice if there were a consensus around him.

The question that has gone unanswered since the end of former President Michel Sleiman's term in May is: who is the consensus figure that Lebanon's Christians will agree on, along with the Future Movement, Hezbollah, Speaker Berri, Jumblatt and regional and international powers?


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