Lebanon News

Jumblatt to Paris for talks with Hariri

MP Walid Jumblatt, left, and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri are seen in this Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 file photo. (The Daily Star/File)

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt flew to Paris Tuesday for talks with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, with party officials hinting that the Druze leader will push MP Henry Helou as a consensus candidate for the presidency.

PSP MP Alaeddine Tirro signaled that Jumblatt would press ahead in promoting Helou as a consensus candidate.

“From the beginning, we raised this issue with everyone, with Helou visiting [former Prime Minister Fouad] Siniora and several political and government officials, including Gen. Michel Aoun and Samir Geagea,” Tirro told local Radio Orient.

“We want consensus because the country is divided,” Tirro stressed, pointing the failure of the March 8 and March 14 coalitions to elect a president. “We hope Helou will win as a consensus president to end the presidential vacuum."

A source at the Beirut airport said Jumblatt, accompanied by Health Minister Wael Abu Faour, left on a private plane at 11 a.m.

Abu Faour, also a senior PSP official, recently met Hariri in Morocco to prepare for talks between Jumblatt and the head of the Future Movement.

Lawmakers have botched six attempts since April to elect a successor to former President Michel Sleiman, whose term ended May 25.

A voting session scheduled for Wednesday will also fail due to lack of quorum, political sources told The Daily Star.

Future bloc MP Jamal Jarrah said the Paris talks would focus on finding a way out of the presidential deadlock.

Hariri and Jumblatt “will discuss ways to get out the closed circle in order to elect a new president and to get out of the presidential vacuum,” Jarrah told the Voice of Lebanon radio station.

Tirro said Jumblatt’s visit is “significant in light of the current circumstances, particularly the failure to elect a president or approve the salary raise or agree on how to govern the work of the government and Parliament.”

He also highlighted the need to maintain contact considering the violence in the region, namely in neighboring Syria and Iraq.





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