MidEast

Lebanese Presidential Candidate Promises He Will “Not Weaken Hezbollah”

Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces Party, has announced his candidacy for president of that strife-torn country. According to a newspaper report, he wants to treat all Lebanese equally and wants to strengthen the state but “not weaken Hezbollah.”

The website Ya Libnan reports:

Addressing his presidential program, the LF chief said that he aspires “to strengthen the state and its role, not weaken Hezbollah.” …

“Contacts are ongoing with the March 14 alliance members in order to adopt my nomination, because we ultimately have to agree on a single candidate to face the March 8 camp’s candidate,” he explained while meeting a delegation from the Editors Syndicate.

The March 14 alliance is the Lebanon’s anti-Hezbollah movement making Geagea’s deference to Hezbollah surprising. (Pro-Hezbollah forces are the “March 8 camp.”)

Geagea, however, took a more adversarial view of the Iranian-backed terrorist group, in an interview with the London based pan-Arab news site, Asharq Al-Awsat. In the interview, which was also published last week, Geagea said that “Hezbollah cannot assume that weapons are the best way to protect Lebanon. There is a clear standard all over the world: the state alone must protect its citizens.”

Michel Aoun, an ally of Hezbollah, is speculated to be the likely candidate of the March 8 forces, but he has not yet announced his candidacy.

Despite a recent shakeup in Hezbollah’s structure supervised by Iran, Hezbollah has a record of interfering in the effective functioning of Lebanon’s government and is believed to hold sway over a significant portion of the Lebanese army. Lebanon’s politics are further destabilized by the massive influx of refugees from Syria.

The date for the election is not set, but according to Lebanon’s constitution it should be held by May 24.

[Photo: Elie Goldman  / YouTube ]