BEIRUT: MP Michel Aoun said Wednesday there is a "serious possibility" he will run for president in the spring election, in his first public comments on the subject.
Aoun, a former Army general, made it a point to clarify the “difference between an Army officer who would impose a dictator-like power and one who can be democratic.”
“Many are surprised when they meet me and my reactions are not as people perceive,” the head of the Free Patriotic Movement said in an interview with Al-Arabiya television.
However, Aoun stopped short of committing to run.
“I refuse everything that could lead to an internal clash even if such an opposition would cost me the presidency,” he said. “Not becoming president is not the end of the world.”
Media reports said Aoun's meeting last month with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Rome indicated that the head of the FPM could be a candidate for the presidency.
Aoun also addressed the debate over Hezbollah's weapons and the crisis in Syria, calling on all foreign fighters to withdraw from the country.
"All fighters should withdraw from Syria, particularly Arab fighters, because their presence is a violation of the Arab League covenant to say the least,” Aoun said.
He urged rival Syrian groups to come together and engage in national dialogue to reach a democratic system of governance.
Aoun, a strong ally of Hezbollah, said the Lebanese group’s interference in Syria was either “to protect the regime of President Bashar Assad or to protect itself.”
He also touched on the disputed issue of the resistance, saying a strong Army would eliminate the need for Hezbollah.
“We want arms for the military that could represent deterrence to Israel if we wanted to eliminate the resistance,” said Aoun, the head of the second largest bloc in Parliament, adding that such a plan could take years.