Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanese Forces talks tackling presidency: Samir Geagea

BEIRUT: Talks between Lebanese Forces and Free Patriotic Movement officials have begun tackling the controversial presidential impasse, LF chief Samir Geagea told a Kuwaiti newspaper.

Geagea said the rapprochement between the rival Christian parties began with an agreement on legislation priorities, but has now moved on to the presidency.

“We are continuing this discussion on the issue of presidential elections,” he told Al-Rai newspaper in excerpts of remarks set to be published Thursday.

He said attempts to solve the year-long presidential impasse are “one of the priorities” of talks between the groups.

The LF chief said that his Christian rivals were continuing to disrupt elections by boycotting legislative sessions, but insisted that Hezbollah was the main force behind the deadlock.

Hezbollah is stalling presidential elections in order to subject the decision to regional compromises as well as the outcome of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, he said.

The comments come after Geagea and FPM chief Michel Aoun announced earlier this month a thaw in their decades-old rivalry, issuing a joint statement urging the election of a strong president.

The gathering of the two party leaders was seen as a crucial step to ending the country’s year-long presidential impasse, given that both Aoun and Geagea are candidates, but neither has been able to garner enough parliamentary support to win.

Lawmakers have failed in 24 consecutive sessions to elect a successor to former President Michel Sleiman since his term ended May 25, 2014.

Lawmakers from Aoun’s parliamentary Change and Reform bloc, Hezbollah MPs and their March 8 allies, have thwarted a quorum since April 2014 by boycotting parliamentary sessions, demanding an agreement beforehand with their March 14 rivals.s talks tackling presidency: Samir Geagea.