BEIRUT: MP Walid Jumblatt Wednesday denied his party’s willingness to withdraw the nomination of MP Henry Helou from the presidential race, saying the lawmaker represented needed moderation in the face of existing political divisions.
“It is not accurate that the party is willing to withdraw its nomination of MP Henry Helou, particularly at a time when the local and regional events prove day by day the need to stick to such a candidate because he could represent the only end to the deadlock amid such sharp divisions,” Jumblatt said.
In comments to As-Safir published Tuesday, Jumblatt was quoted as saying that he “did not mind withdrawing Helou’s nomination if others withdrew their nominations.”
The March 14 coalition has maintained its nomination of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea for the country’s top Christian post, while rival MP Michel Aoun has been the March 8 group’s undeclared candidate.
Parliament has failed to convene eight times as March 8 lawmakers maintain a boycott of legislative sessions to elect a new president, saying such sessions are futile unless political parties agree on a consensus candidate.
Jumblatt reiterated that Helou was a needed candidate for Lebanon in light of the circumstances in the country.
“The bloc considers Helou as representing the path of moderation, consensus and dialogue, which should contribute to producing political solutions amid the continued Syrian war and the involvement of Lebanese forces in it,” he said.
“What is needed is to affirm the policy of disassociation and restore legitimacy to the Baabda Declaration, which represents the most appropriate agenda for any new president.”
The head of the Progressive Socialist Party also made an appeal to some lawmakers, who he said were “hostage to ideological and delusional prisons,” to attend parliamentary session and elect a new president.
Meanwhile, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai held talks with Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh at the former’s summer residence in Diman.
The two discussed the presidential stalemate, now its second month, as well as pressing social and economic issues.