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Lebanon: Aoun is Close to Win the Presidential Elections…His Opponents will Face Him with Blank Papers - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Beirut- The political picture of Monday’s session to elect a new President in Lebanon became clearer after Future Movement leader Saad Hariri informed Saturday the country’s political and religious references that all available facts confirm the election of MP Michel Aoun as president with a two-third majority of deputies’ votes.

However, on Monday Aoun will not face the other candidate head of the Marada Movement MP Suleiman Franjieh, but he would rather face white papers (blank).

Franjieh asked all Aoun’s opponents Saturday not to place his name in the ballot box, but to place a blank paper.

Speaker Nabih Berri agreed with Franjieh. Berri still insists to firmly oppose the election of Aoun as president.

It became clear that Franjieh and Berri resorted to this strategy to show that a large number of MPs were against Aoun’s presidency. The two men decided to abandon their support for Franjieh in order to prevent votes from dispersing between Franjieh and white papers.

According to the latest count, the head of the Change and Reform parliamentary bloc is expected to receive the votes of at least 83 MPs. Aoun needs at least 86 votes to win during the first round of elections. But, in the second round, Aoun needs only 65 votes.

Director of Statistics Lebanon Rabih haber told Asharq Al-Awsat that Aoun has already secured 87 votes, which will make him a president from the first round. “Franjieh’s calls to vote with a white paper would not have a moral effect on Aoun,” Haber said.

The meetings launched last week by Hariri with members of his parliamentary bloc and some independent MPs helped narrow the number of votes who had opposed the election of Aoun as president. Future Movement member MP Mohammed Abdelatif Qabbara told Asharq Al-Awsat: “All the deputies who had attended last Friday’s meeting of the parliamentary bloc heard from President Hariri a detailed explanation about the reasons which have led him to support Aoun.”

Qabbara said that former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora did not oppose Hariri’s plan. According to Qabbara, Siniora “reiterated his support to the bloc’s unity in all the decisions.”

On Saturday, Hariri had visited a number of leaders including Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Raid and Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Derian.

During his meeting with Hariri, the Maronite Patriarch had described Monday’s presidential session as the “White Monday.”

Hariri responded: “We will reach a conclusion that we hope would make next Monday a White Monday.”

The former Premier said a new page is unfolding to all Lebanese, while big challenges face the Cabinet and the State to revive its institutions and economy.