Asiri Denies Saudi Arabia Interfering in Presidential Election

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Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri said on Friday that his country intervenes in local Lebanese affairs, denying that contacts are ongoing between Riyadh and al-Mustaqbal movement chief Saad Hariri regarding the presidential poll.

“The kingdom doesn’t interfere with al-Mustaqbal or any other party” in Lebanese affairs, Asiri said in remarks published in As Safir newspaper.

He repudiated reports saying that Saudi Arabia “is pushing forward a certain candidate to the presidential post… Our stance is clear and final.”

However, An Nahar newspaper reported that Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun is seeking Hariri’s support before announcing his candidacy.

Aoun continuously said that he will not announce his candidacy for the presidency if there was no political consensus on him.

As Safir said that Hariri “is awaiting for Saudi Arabia’s approval before granting Aoun his consensus.”

Sources close to Rabieh told the daily that “Hariri is true to his word… He is awaiting for the Saudi decision and will inform his allies once he receives it.”

The parliament failed to elect a new president on Wednesday, with no candidate securing the two-thirds of the votes needed to win and many lawmakers leaving their ballots blank.

The parliament will hold a second vote on April 30, in which the winning candidate will need only a simple majority of 65 votes.

On Wednesday, 124 of the parliament’s 128 members were present, with 48 casting their ballots for March 14 official, Lebanese Forces leader, Samir Geagea.

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