Qassem Urges Mustaqbal to ‘End Hesitation’, Says Hizbullah Ready to Vote for Aoun

Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem on Sunday called on al-Mustaqbal Movement to “end its hesitation” and agree to back Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun’s presidential bid, noting that Hizbullah’s MPs would immediately end their boycott of the electoral sessions in order to vote for Aoun.

“The days have proved that there is a specific path for the presidency. Those who want to elect a president have only one route to take and it leads to General Michel Aoun,” Qassem said.

“The global and regional powers, the Security Council and the Arab League will not be able to alter this course. They have been trying for two years to no avail,” Hizbullah number two added.

He also stressed that the developments in the region, “whether negative or positive, will not be able to change this course in Lebanon.”

“Delaying the election of the president will not change the equation and it will only produce further vacuum, paralysis and harm to people’s interests,” Qassem warned.

“We advise al-Mustaqbal Movement, which is currently obstructing the election of a president, to end its hesitation… This would be in the interest of the country and also in their interest,” the Hizbullah official added.

“Should an agreement be reached over General Aoun’s election as president, we are ready to attend a parliamentary session aimed at electing a president and we will vote for him no matter how much the session might be imminent,” Qassem noted.

Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and Hizbullah, Aoun’s Change and Reform bloc and some of their allies have been boycotting the parliament’s electoral sessions, stripping them of the needed quorum.

Al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri, who is close to Saudi Arabia, launched an initiative in late 2015 to nominate Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency but his proposal was met with reservations from the country’s main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.

Hariri’s move prompted Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea to endorse the nomination of Aoun, his long-time Christian rival.

The supporters of Aoun’s presidential bid argue that he is more eligible than Franjieh to become president due to the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.