Lebanon News

Frangieh: Gemayel ‘overly optimistic’ on election

Marada leader Sleiman Franjieh, right, receives former President Amin Gemayel in Bneshaai, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Marada, HO)

BEIRUT: Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel stressed Thursday the need for holding the presidential election on time while Marada leader MP Suleiman Frangieh dismissed such hopes as “overly optimistic.”

“The presidential election is a national issue and not holding it on time would be dangerous for the country because the future [of the country] would be unknown and would fall into a vacuum,” Gemayel said.

“We do not know where such a vacuum could lead,” he added.

Gemayel said that both the regional and local situations are difficult and unstable “and we need a president capable of confronting all challenges.”

“This can only be achieved through mutual understanding,” the Kataeb leader said, hinting at the need for a consensus president.

For his part, Frangieh said that Gemayel is “overly optimistic” and that it will be hard to hold the presidential election on time.

“We always say we are against a vacuum and we should work together to hold the election prior to May 25,” he said.

“Gemayel is overly optimistic and I am saying things as they are; the March 8 would not elect a March 14 candidate and March 14 would not elect a March 8 candidate,” he said. “It is hard to hold the election amid the divisons in the country.”

Gemayel met with Frangieh at the latter’s residence in Bnashei, north Lebanon and is expected to meet later MP Walid Jumblatt as part of his initiative to resolve the presidential crisis, political sources said.

The sources told The Daily Star earlier that Gemayel is seeking to rally Christian support for his presidency bid and replace Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea as the March 14-backed candidate.

Gemayel, who served as president of Lebanon from 1982-88, has begun consultations with Christian leaders on the presidential election. He has so far met with Geagea and his rival Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun. He also held talks with Metn MP Michel Murr.

In addition to consulting with Christian leaders, Gemayel will also seek to sound out the opinions of the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition to discover whether he can muster its support for his presidential bid, the sources said.

However, the sources said it would be difficult for the Kataeb leader to convince Jumblatt and Hezbollah to support his candidacy.

Lebanon has failed in three consecutive rounds to elect a successor for President Michel Sleiman, whose term ends on May 25.

The second and third Parliament session to vote for a new head of state failed over lack of quorum due to a boycott from Hezbollah and Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc.





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