PARIS (Dispatches) – France is reportedly pushing to end the presidential deadlock in Lebanon by promoting a Western-aligned candidate that may also be confirmed by Hezbollah resistance movement.
In a report on Friday, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar said that officials in France have chosen a different path compared to that of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as they are seeking to nominate Joseph Aoun, current commander of the Lebanese army, for the presidency.
The push is reportedly led by the “Lebanon crisis cell” at the Élysée palace as well as by presidential diplomatic adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, and the head of foreign intelligence, Ambassador Bernard Emier.
According to the report, Paris seeks to rule out the nomination of Christian politicians who are aligned with Hezbollah, especially from the Free Patriotic Movement.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah has also not included Aoun as a possible candidate but it seems that the resistance movement does not reject him completely.
MP Ali Ammar of Hezbollah responded to a question about the nomination of Aoun, saying, “Hezbollah sees Aoun as a good example in his management of the military establishment and his protection of civil peace and national security.”
Lebanese lawmakers failed to elect the country’s next president for a seventh time on Thursday, nearly a month after the previous head of state Michel Aoun left the Baabda Palace.
Christian MP and presidential hopeful Michel Moawad, who is seen as close to Washington, was the front-runner with 42 votes in Thursday’s session. He, however, fell short of the two-thirds majority or 86 votes needed to win. The fraction of the vote in the 128-seat parliament is needed for a candidate to win in the first round, with an absolute majority required in subsequent rounds.
Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri said the legislative body will convene for an eighth attempt to elect a new president on December 1.
Moawad’s candidacy is opposed by Hezbollah.
There have been delays in electing previous Lebanese presidents. Aoun’s own election in 2016 followed a more than two-year vacancy at the presidential palace as lawmakers made 45 failed attempts before reaching a consensus on his candidacy.
The country has also had only a caretaker government since May.
The governance vacuum continues as Lebanon grapples with a devastating economic crisis that the World Bank has dubbed one of the worst in recent history amid crippling sanctions by the U.S. and its allies. In a statement on Wednesday, the bank warned against deepening economic crisis.