High-ranking Lebanese politician Gebran Bassil said on Thursday he was working to find a compromise presidential candidate who would be able to push through crucial reforms, but would run for the job himself if he did. considered a successful candidate to be a poor option.
Lebanon has had no head of state or fully empowered cabinet since Michel Aoun’s term as president ended on October 31 – an unprecedented vacuum, even by the standards of a country that has seen little stability since. independence. The vacuum marks a new phase in the crisis that has gripped Lebanon since its financial system collapsed in 2019, impoverishing much of the population, crippling banks and fueling the biggest wave of emigration since the 1975 civil war. -1990.
The presidential post is reserved for Christians, but part of the standoff reflects rivalries within the community as well as crucial political and religious balances in the country. “I am at the head of the largest parliamentary bloc and it is my total right to be a candidate and to promote myself but I see that the existence of Lebanon is much more important than that and it is now the existence of the Lebanon which is at stake,” he added. Bassil, a Maronite Christian, who is one of Lebanon’s most influential politicians, told Reuters in an interview.
“I made the decision not to apply in order to avoid the vacancy and to facilitate the process of securing a good profile with a high probability of success. I did not do this to get the position vacant and a wrong person to fill the void.” he said. “I will not accept having a bad president and in this case of course I would present myself”.
Bassil is the head of the FPM, founded by the incumbent Aoun, his father-in-law, and he was sanctioned by the United States in 2020 for alleged corruption and material support for Hezbollah. He denies the charges. While politicians show no compromise in a struggle for state power, some political sources and analysts say a compromise over the presidency could require the kind of foreign mediation that has previously saved Lebanon from such stalemates.
Bassil said he was in Paris as part of a broader effort to create a framework that could be agreed upon nationally and internationally and that would facilitate the process for the new president to push through crucial economic reforms without them. repeated blockages of the past. France has spearheaded international efforts to pull Lebanon out of its deepest crisis since the civil war, but to no avail.
Bassil, who has been applauded for playing a behind-the-scenes role in US-brokered talks to demarcate Lebanon’s maritime border with Israel by liaising with Hezbollah, said he hoped a breakthrough in the presidency could be achieved by the end of the year, but that even that was “dangerous” in terms of delays. “Frankly, if what we’re trying to do doesn’t work out, I don’t see any chance in the near future and the vacancy could last a long time,” he said. “That’s why the country cannot accept this and live with it, so we have to succeed in finding a solution.”
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