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Lebanon: Aoun making presidential inroads - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanese Member of Parliament Michel Aoun, right, seals the envelope in which he wrote his vote to elect new Lebanese president at the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, on April 23, 2014. (EPA/Joseph Eid/Pool)

Lebanese Member of Parliament Michel Aoun (R), seals the envelope in which he wrote his vote to elect new Lebanese president at the parliament building in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, on April 23, 2014. (EPA/Joseph Eid/Pool)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Free Patriotic Movement leader and prospective March 8 Alliance presidential candidate Michel Aoun will push ahead with his presidential bid, local Maronite sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat on Friday.

Seeking to secure a breakthrough to end Lebanon’s paralyzing political stalemate over electing a new president, a delegation from the Maronite League and the Maronite Foundation met with Aoun on Thursday.

“It’s Aoun or nobody,” a delegation member, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, quoted Aoun as saying.

“Aoun is well aware of the risks of the presidential vacuum continuing for months and months,” the source added.

Local media reported on Friday that Aoun and the March 8 Alliance will seek to hold parliamentary elections on schedule in September, regardless of whether a successor to former president Michel Suleiman has been selected.

“If a new president is not elected before September, Aoun will not accept under any circumstances the extension of parliament’s mandate,” March 8 Alliance sources told Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper.

The March 8 Alliance’s presumptive presidential candidate had been seeking to secure the support of Future Movement leader Saad Hariri this week. Hariri, a major figure in the March 14 Alliance, has warned against the continuation of the presidential vacuum in Lebanon.

There are no signs yet that Lebanese lawmakers will be able to secure a quorum for a vote to elect a new president at the next parliamentary session, scheduled for June 9.

The March 14 Alliance had initially backed Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s nomination for the presidency, over strong objections from the Hezbollah-dominated March 8 Alliance. The March 14 Alliance appears increasingly split, with Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel reported to be mulling a presidential bid and Hariri considering crossing party lines.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat</em, Kataeb Party MP Nadim Gemayel warned against Lebanon becoming accustomed to a vacant presidency, saying that Lebanon “categorically rejects” a presidential vacuum.

The Kataeb Party MP, a nephew of leader Amine Gemayel, called on the March 8 Alliance not to boycott the next parliamentary session.

Lebanese lawmakers have failed in five legislative sessions to elect a replacement to former President Michel Suleiman, whose term in office ended on May 25.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the UN Security Council urged Lebanon’s parliament to elect a president “as soon as possible.”

The UN called on Lebanese lawmakers to “uphold Lebanon’s longstanding democratic tradition” and make sure the election occurs “without external interference.”