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Gemayel denies political 'tour' paves way for candidacy

File - Kataeb leader Amine Gemayel speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Feb. 7, 2011. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Kataeb Party head Amine Gemayel denied in remarks published Sunday that his recent initiative to hold contacts with various groups was paving the way for his candidacy to the presidency, saying a vacuum in the top post would only lead to foreign intervention.

“My political tour has nothing to with my candidacy because what matters to me is to hold the election and we should all overcome our personal issues to salvage the republic,” Gemayel told Al-Mustaqbal. “Never in my life have I prioritized my personal interest over that of the country, how can I do that now in such a delicate situation?”

Gemayel launched an initiative to “salvage the republic,” holding contacts with the country’s various groups and stressing the need for the presidential election to be held on time.

Gemayel, who was president from 1982-1988, had been widely expected to announce his candidacy to return to the position before the March 14 coalition announced its support for Lebanese Forces candidate Samir Geagea. Since Geagea has failed to garner the needed majority, Gemayel has presented himself as a possible alternative from the coalition.

The possibility of a vacuum has tremendously increased after Parliament failed three times to secure quorum for voting, let alone elect a candidate for the country’s top Christian post.

“Communication between leaders is necessary in this phase because isolation leads to loss of hope. We have designed a road plan to communicate with the main figures so that we could elect a new president,” Gemayel said of his “tour.”

“It is unfortunate how some undermine the May 25 deadline because reaching that date without a president means a vacuum ... increases divisions and leads to foreign intervention because the Lebanese are incapable of coming to an understanding."

He also described Geagea's willingness to back down as a candidate if a consensus is reached on another figure as a "positive initiative."

He also said MP Walid Jumblatt, who has backed the candidacy of MP Henry Helou, as flexible, saying the head of the Progressive Socialist Party might change his stance if favorable developments arise.

"We cannot expect Jumblatt to reconsider his stance after one meeting and it is only natural for him to remain adamant on Henry Helo but he is not far from logic. If he sees new developments that would require him to change his mind, then he would,” he said.

Jumblatt’s support for either March 8 or a March 14 candidate would tip the balance in favor of one of the group as Parliament is almost evenly divided among the rival coalitions.

 

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Summary

Kataeb Party head Amine Gemayel denied in remarks published Sunday that his recent initiative to hold contacts with various groups was paving the way for his candidacy to the presidency, saying a vacuum in the top post would only lead to foreign intervention.

Gemayel, who was president from 1982-1988, had been widely expected to announce his candidacy to return to the position before the March 14 coalition announced its support for Lebanese Forces candidate Samir Geagea. Since Geagea has failed to garner the needed majority, Gemayel has presented himself as a possible alternative from the coalition.

He also described Geagea's willingness to back down as a candidate if a consensus is reached on another figure as a "positive initiative".

He also said MP Walid Jumblatt, who has backed the candidacy of MP Henry Helou, as flexible, saying the head of the Progressive Socialist Party might change his stance if favorable developments arise.


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