Report: Gemayel to Announce Candidacy this Week

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Kataeb party leader Amin Gemayel has informed his allies that he would officially announce his candidacy for the presidency, the party’s officials said.

As Safir daily quoted the officials, who were not identified, as saying that Gemayel, a former president, informed the March 14 coalition that he would make the announcement by the end of this week.

According to An Nahar newspaper, the Kataeb leadership held a meeting on Wednesday night to assess the presidential elections after Speaker Nabih Berri called for a meeting to elect a new head of state on April 23 and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea launched his program.

Geagea is the sole politician to have officially announced his candidacy for the polls.

Other candidates include Gemayel, who along with Geagea is a member of March 14, and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, who according to sources in al-Joumhouria has informed his March 8 ally Hizbullah that he is prepared to take the post if there was consensus on him.

Aoun has reportedly sent similar messages to al-Mustaqbal movement leader Saad Hariri who leads the March 14 camp.

Berri has said that any candidate must secure two-thirds of votes to win in the first round of elections and half-plus-one or 65 votes of the 128-member parliament to win in the second round.

A Kataeb official told An Nahar that the party does not veto any candidate.

But he stressed that “no one asked the Kataeb on its point of view although it is in continuous contact with all parties.”

The official hinted that Gemayel is capable of receiving the support of MPs from outside the two major camps – the March 8 and 14 alliances.

He said Kataeb lawmakers will attend the parliamentary session next Wednesday.

Kataeb MP Elie Marouni also told Voice of Lebanon (100.5) that his party believes Gemayel could be a strong president.

Parliament should choose a head of state by May 25, when President Michel Suleiman’s six-year term ends.

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