BEIRUT: Kataeb leader Amine Gemayel announced his aspiration to become a consensus candidate for the presidential election, saying he had a better chance of winning than Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
“I aspire to become a consensus president, but my aspirations are not enough to make it real as all political forces have their own considerations,” Gemayel said in comments published Sunday with Saudi Okaz daily.
“I have kept contacts with all [political] rivals even at the darkest times in the county, that is why no independent group or party from the March 8 coalition would meet me with the negativity that they met Dr. Geagea’s [presidential candidacy] with, which gives me a chance,” he said.
Lebanon’s Parliament has failed in two sessions so far to elect new president. The majority of lawmakers attended the first round of the election, but a quorum was not secured for the second session due to a boycott from Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement.
Gemayel got one vote in the first session, although he was not considered a candidate then. Geagea won 48 votes and MP Henri Helou got 16, while the March 8 coalition cast 52 blank ballots.
Gemayel said that if Gegaea were able to break the political barricade surrounding him, March 14 would be able to reach its objective in having a president from the coalition.
“If not, all options would be on the table and my candidacy would become real,” he said.
Gemayel also said that he would like Speaker Nabih Berri to champion his possible candidacy, adding that he would need the support of the March 14 and the understanding of the March 8 camp.
Addressing both Geagea and MP Michel Aoun, Gemayel called for putting the interests of the nation above any personal interests.
“We should cooperate to serve the nation and not a certain party,” he said. “The election should not cause further divisions among the rival parties.”
Asked about his stance on Hezbollah's controversial arms if elected president, Gemayel said the state should have sole authority over weapons but added that a decision on that issue needed to be approved by all sides.
“Our understanding of the sovereignty of the state lies in keeping arms in the hands of the state,” he said. “The dialogue on Hezbollah’s weapons would continue to need a consensus patriotic decision that serves the nation.”