The crescendo of interest in Lebanon’s presidential election has dropped sharply in recent weeks.
Tangible news and developments have been replaced by daily speculation, gossip and statements by politicians, anxious to claim their familiarity with the thinking and actions in foreign capitals, and how this will supposedly affect the election of a new president.
This swamp of daily chatter was punctuated Tuesday by Michel Aoun, who in a televised interview said only he could “guarantee” the political and physical security of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is out of the country for security reasons.
Whether or not Aoun was speaking off the cuff, the result is disastrous. If figures such as Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah or Samir Geagea can’t fully guarantee their security and are obliged to live in bunker-like conditions, then Aoun can’t offer guarantees about politicians’ safety. Even worse, he implied that he can deliver this “guarantee” because of his personal contacts, and thus is aware of exactly who is prepared to carry out such threats.
With Lebanon reeling from political turbulence in the region and paralysis at home, Aoun could have done the country a service by offering a ray of hope. Instead, he repeated his long-held belief that only he can save the country, holding it hostage to his presidential dreams.
Aoun thus shot down any possibility of a presidential election taking place, and hinted that the functioning of the Cabinet and the battle over holding parliamentary elections will provide even more reasons for a hot political summer.
Otherwise, Aoun’s only contribution is the concept of democratic elections being unworthy of being held, unless he is guaranteed to win.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 19, 2014, on page 7.