BEIRUT: With only days until President Michel Sleiman’s term expires, the former Army commander insisted that he wanted to leave office Sunday, seeking freedom for him and his family.
“I have made a commitment, about two years ago, not to renew my term,” he told the Beirut daily An-Nahar. “I want to free myself and those close to me – aides and advisers – and free my family.”
A lack of a breakthrough in the presidential election is a foregone conclusion ahead of a scheduled voting session Thursday, with a majority of March 8 lawmakers pledging to boycott once again.
“I’m very sad to leave office with a huge chance not [to hold] a hand-over ceremony with my successor,” Sleiman said in remarks published Thursday.
However, Sleiman defended efforts by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai to extend his six-year term by one or two years as four attempts by Parliament to elect a successor have failed.
Rai’s bid “comes from his eagerness to evade a presidential vacuum and urge the election of a new president,” he said.
Sleiman said he would like to see the election of a president who would carry on the mission he started, particularly the Baabda Declaration, national defense strategy, the establishment of the International Support Group for Lebanon and the Saudi support for the Lebanese Army.