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Lebanon: March 14 Alliance mulls presidential "Plan B" - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Lebanese members of parliament gather to elect the new president in downtown Beirut on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Joseph Eid, Pool)

Lebanese MPs gather to elect the new president in downtown Beirut on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Joseph Eid, Pool)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—The March 14 Alliance is set to move to “Plan B” as the presidential vacuum in Lebanon continues. Former president Michel Suleiman left office over the weekend, before parliament could elect a successor. The rival March 14 Alliance and March 8 Alliance political blocs have so far been unable to agree on a “consensus” candidate.

The March 14 Alliance is backing Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea as its candidate, but has failed to win the support of the country’s lawmakers in five parliamentary sessions held since late April amid a boycott by the Hezbollah-led March 8 Alliance. The Western-backed political alliance is now looking for an alternate candidate to break the deadlock, with many observers believing that it could throw its weight behind Kataeb Party leader and former president Amine Gemayel.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, senior Future Movement member Mustafa Alloush said that the March 14 Alliance has drawn up a new plan to end the presidential crisis in the country, but has yet to put it into effect.

“We are prepared to search for a consensus candidate similar to former president Michel Suleiman,” Alloush said. He accused the Hezbollah-led March 8 Alliance of “exacerbating the country’s presidential crisis” by boycotting parliamentary sessions.

Kataeb bloc MP Elie Marouni called on the March 14 Alliance to move to “Plan B” after “Plan A,” supporting Samir Geagea, failed.

“Since the beginning, Plan A was for the March 14 Alliance to vote for Geagea. However, the plan was to agree a new candidate in the event this failed,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Following the failure of five parliamentary sessions seeking to elect a president to end this state of presidential vacuum, the time has come to move to a new stage by choosing a new candidate,” Marouni said, without specifying which figure the March 14 Alliance should back.

In a previous interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Geagea said he was ready to discuss the issue of withdrawing his presidential bid “if the March 14 Alliance names a consensus candidate with a platform similar to mine.” He praised Gemayel’s “well-respected name” and platform.

Gemayel has not ruled out standing for the presidency, but stressed that he would only run as a “consensus” candidate. In previous comments, he told Asharq Al-Awsat “I will either be a consensus candidate or not a candidate at all.”