President: ”We are ready to engage in dialogue with everyone”, says Bassil

The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, declared on Saturday ready to “dialogue with everyone” to elect a president of the republic to succeed the current head of state, his father-in-law Michel Aoun, whose mandate expires on October 31. However, he warned the opposing camp that he could “change his mind” and urged him not to “bet on the vacancy” in power. until his opponents intervene, while according to several observers the chances of the leader of the CPL to be elected president of the republic are almost zero under the current circumstances. Mr. In this context, Bassil reminded on Saturday that he was still not officially a candidate for this function.

“We are not going to accept a president who is not representative at the popular and parliamentary level. We refuse the appointment of a head of state from abroad,” he said in a speech in front of supporters at the Beirut Forum, on the occasion of a mass commemorating the party’s “martyrs” who fell on October 13, 1990. On that day, Syrian troops had driven from the Baabda Palace CPL founder Michel Aoun, who was army chief at the time and headed a military government responsible for organizing the presidential election to elect a successor to Amine Gemayel, whose term ended in 1988.

“Be careful or we’ll change our minds!”

“The equation is clear and known. The balances only allow a quorum of 86 deputies and an election with a ‘simple majority’ of 65 votes, but no one has this number of votes alone,” said Mr. Bassil: “We are ready to talk to everyone, and we have no complexes. Whoever refuses will be the only loser and will exclude himself from the equation (…)”, added the head of the CPL. “We facilitate the process, but let no one underestimate us. Be careful, or we will change our minds!” he warned, without naming those he is addressing. His rival par excellence, Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces, is also an unofficial candidate for the presidency, as is the leader of Zghorta, the head of Marada Sleiman Frangié.The names of the army chief, General Joseph Aoun, are also circulating, although the senior officer has not yet announced his candidacy.

“Don’t wait any longer and don’t bet that the power vacuum will tire people. We won’t tire. Let’s agree before the vacuum takes place and choose a head of state. We don’t ‘ Let’s just choose a reforming president who is not hostage to the system (…)”, warned Gebran Bassil, who remembers the conditions of his training regarding the profile of the next candidate. The head of the CPL actually made a tour a few days ago with President Aoun and Patriarch Béchara Raï, the two highest Maronite authorities, to send them his list of characteristics for the future head of state. He also let it be known that he will continue his tour of political parties to send them this document.

Portrait

Joseph Aoun, the tightrope walker who can build consensus

Lebanese deputies failed to elect a president of the republic for the second time on Thursday due to a lack of quorum, exacerbating fears of a total vacancy in the executive branch, while the current government of Nagib Mikati has been broadcasting routine business since May, following the legislation. choice. Gebran Bassil and his camp believe that an outgoing government cannot assume the prerogatives of the head of state in the event of a vacancy in the presidency after October 31.

The government

“Reforms need a government and a president. It is clear that the priority is the election of a head of state, but a government must also be formed to act as an insurance policy in a vacancy,” said Gebran Bassil, as President Aoun and appointed prime minister. Nagib Mikati disagrees with the formation process, which blocks the establishment of a new cabinet before October 31. The Aounis camp accuses Mr Mikati of not respecting the powers of the head of state in forming a government.

“The cabinet cannot be formed outside the constitution and the partnership. We will not allow the rights of the head of state to be violated in this regard,” Mr Bassil warned. “It is not worth it for President Aoun to accept during the last two weeks of his mandate what he refused for six years,” he added. “An outgoing government, which does not enjoy all its powers, cannot assume that of the President of the Republic (…)”, repeated the MP for Batroun.

The maritime border

During his river speech, Gebran Bassil also commented on the agreement reached between Lebanon and Israel on the course of their maritime border. Two days ago, President Aoun announced that Lebanon has approved the final version of the agreement, which has not yet been formalized by the two countries. The head of state called this agreement a “historic achievement” and even said that Lebanon “has become an oil state”. But according to experts, Many steps still need to be taken before Lebanon can benefit from this oil windfall, which would not even be the solution to the unprecedented economic crisis that the country has been struggling with since 2019.

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Despite sanctions, Bassil says he played a behind-the-scenes role in the negotiations

“The victory at the maritime border cannot replace the victory against corruption and does not exempt us from reforms”, affirmed Gebran Bassil, who wants to be a role model for the fight against bad governance, while his opponents and part of the population accuse him of corruption. The US, for its part, sanctioned him for alleged “corruption”, while the head of the CPL believes that these sanctions are “political”.

“We took all our rights in the area of ​​Cana despite the fact that it is not in its entirety in our area (…)” he welcomed. The agreement between Lebanon and Israel stipulates that the Karish offshore field will be under Israeli control and that the Cana reserves, further to the northeast, will be given to Lebanon. However, since part of this deposit exceeds the future demarcation line, the Jewish state would receive a part of the future income from the gas extraction of Cana. An agreement has been reached between TotalEnergies, the French giant tipped to explore this field, and the Israelis, under which they could “receive compensation” from the energy giant and not from Lebanon, according to the deputy president of the Lebanese parliament Elias Bou Saab.

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Gas will not save Lebanon

In this context, Gebran Bassil came to the defense of his Shiite ally, Hezbollah, which had threatened Israel with war if an agreement was not reached. “Where were they (opponents of the Aounist camp, ed. note) when Hassan Nasrallah (leader of Hezbollah) introduced the equation with the power of the resistance movement, its missiles and its drones? They whistled about the possibility of a war and accused the party of to be responsible for it”, he once again condemned without naming those he is targeting with his remarks. “We said that this equation is in Lebanon’s interest and that we should not be afraid of a war because it would accelerate the conclusion of the agreement, in our interest”, he recalled.

Despite US sanctions against him, Gebran Bassil claimed to have played a behind-the-scenes role in the Washington-sponsored talks.

The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, said on Saturday that he was ready to “discuss with everyone” to choose a president of the republic to succeed the current head of state, his father-in-law Michel Aoun, whose term expires on 31 .October. However, he warned the opposing camp that he could “change his mind” and urged him not to “bet the vacancy” on…

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