BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea challenged Wednesday his Christian rival MP Michel Aoun to run against him in the next presidential election session as he criticized recent comments on the poll from Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
“Aoun does not have 65 votes among lawmakers, if he really has such number, let him go to the next session and get elected president,” Geagea said during a press conference.
“And if I am a candidate that contradicts the National Pact, this would show in the president election session,” Geagea said. “If I am really a candidate who contradicts the National Pact as Aoun claims, he should be happy because he would be elected president naturally.”
Dating back to 1943, the National Pact is an unwritten agreement that laid the foundation of Lebanon as a multi-confessional state, and has governed the political dynamics of the country to this day.
Geagea said that Aoun should not use the alibi of waiting for the Future Movement's support to join the presidential race.
“[Former Prime Minister] Saad Hariri declared many times that there is no veto on any of the candidates and that he would congratulate whoever wins,” he said.
The LF leader also criticized Nasrallah’s recent comments that the March 14 coalition was seeking the extension of former President Michel Sleiman’s mandate.
“On what basis is Nasrallah claiming we did not want the election and that we wanted to extend Sleiman’s term? Our group proposed a presidential candidate and attended all Parliament sessions to vote for a new head of state, how can we be seeking the extension in this way?” he asked.
Geagea said “it is the March 8 forces that obstructed the election by boycotting the parliamentary session to vote for a president.”
Lebanon plunged into a presidential vacuum Sunday with the end of President Michel Sleiman’s six-year term and no candidate capable of garnering the required majority to win.
The LF leader also said that he did not run as a “provocative” presidential candidate.
“I am a Maronite Lebanese and I have the political and legal right to run for president; my program is clear and it is true that my opinions do not match the views of Hezbollah but this does not mean I am running for the election to provoke or challenge anyone,” he said.
Geagea also slammed the Syrian presidential vote for expats being held Wednesday in Lebanon as a “farce” and said the country lacked the required conditions for an election.
“The Syrian election does not have the needed conditions and requirements to be considered as an election, and the majority of the Arab and international community do not recognize this election,” he said.
“The presence of a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon is the biggest evidence that the election lacks the right conditions,” he said. “What is happening today is not an election, but a demonstration in support for the Syrian regime.”
Thousands of Syrian expats in Lebanon rallied to their country’s embassy in Yarze to cast their ballots for the election in which President Bashar Assad is expected to win.