Kataeb Calls for Preserving ‘March 14 Unity’ in Presidential Vote

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The Kataeb Party called Monday for preserving “the unity and solidarity of the March 14 forces” and for choosing a March 14 presidential candidate who can garner “the broadest national support.”

“Kataeb’s politburo convened this evening and evaluated the outcome of the contacts made by its members regarding the nomination of party leader Amin Gemayel for the presidency of the Lebanese republic,” a statement said.

The political bureau pointed out that “the current period requires — more than ever — the presence of a competent president at the helm of the country, given the ongoing challenges and the fateful transformations that are surrounding Lebanon and the Middle East.”

The politburo urged all parliamentary blocs to attend the first round of voting on Wednesday and to secure quorum in order to kickstart the process of electing a new president.

“Accordingly, the political bureau stressed the need to preserve the unity and solidarity of the March 14 forces … so that their candidate can seek to garner the broadest national support,” said the statement.

“Kataeb’s political bureau has tasked party leader Amin Gemayel with the responsibility of continuing political contacts, in order to take the appropriate stances that might be needed in light of the developments and the phases of the electoral process,” the statement added.

So far, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea is the only political leader who has announced his official nomination for the presidency.

According to media reports, contacts are underway between Kataeb and the LF in a bid reach consensus over a single March 14 presidential candidate.

LBCI television reported Friday that contacts between Bikfaya and Maarab were close to producing consensus over the presidential vote and therefore preserving the March 14 coalition’s unity.

Kataeb MP Elie Marouni assured on Thursday that Gemayel is a “natural candidate in the presidential race, because the party sees in him a strong and popular president.”

Labor Minister Sejaan Qazzi, who is Gemayel’s adviser, announced as well that the Kataeb leader was preparing to declare his candidacy.

“Gemayel is a normal candidate for presidency … He doesn’t need an electoral program,” Qazzi told al-Jadeed television.

President Michel Suleiman’s tenure ends on May 25, but the constitutional period to elect a new head of state began on March 25. The parliament will hold the first round of voting on Wednesday.

The election is not expected to be an easy process amid a lack of agreement on a consensual candidate.

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