In a rare show of unity in a country divided and without a president since May 2014, the leader of the Lebanese Forces party has announced that he is supporting a rival to become president.
Samir Geagea, speaking during a televised press conference with Michel Aoun on Monday, said he would back the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader’s nomination.
“I declare that the Lebanese Forces have endorsed MP Aoun’s presidential candidacy in the hope that it will end the deadlock,” Geagea said.
“This is a historic day. We have indefinitely folded the page on the past between the Lebanese Forces and the FPM.”
The declaration stressed the need to draft a new electoral law that is fair and truly represents the people and their aspirations.
Aoun and Geagea respectively head the largest Christian parties in Lebanon. By law, the Lebanese president must be a Maronite Christian.
“We hope the election would take place in the near future; we intend to treat everyone equally and embrace all the Lebanese,” Aoun said after receiving Geagea’s endorsement.
“I thank the Lebanese Forces that made the decision to back me for the presidency.”
Following Monday’s announcement, Geagea called on his allies in the March 14 alliance to support this decision.
The alliance includes the Future bloc – the party with the most seats in parliament – led by Saad Hariri, a former prime minister.
Aoun is part of the rival March 8 alliance, which includes Hezbollah, led by Hassan Nasrallah, and Amal, led by Nabih Berri, the parliamentary speaker.
Earlier Hariri had suggested the nomination of another Maronite politician and March 8 figure, Suleiman Franjieh, for president.
The Lebanese president will be elected by the parliament, which is made up of 128 seats. Currently, 127 members are active – one has passed away and not been replaced since.
Future is followed in numerical strength in parliament by the FPM, Amal, Hezbollah and Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party.