Democratic Gathering Won’t Pull Helou Out of Race ‘at This Time’, Candidate Expects No Quorum

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The Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc has announced that withdrawing MP Henri Helou from the presidential race “is out of the question at this time,” as the latter admitted that Wednesday’s electoral session will not be held due to lack of quorum.

In an interview with al-Liwaa newspaper to be published Monday, Helou said: “My nomination came from the National Struggle Front bloc which I belong to after talks and consultations, and this is something normal.”

“Rescuing the country, finding political solutions to its problems and addressing people’s concerns are more important than individuals, and to achieve that the president must have the ability to communicate with all political forces and to be accepted by them,” Helou added.

“The quorum of the next session will only be secured after reaching consensus on who the next president should be,” the candidate noted, adding that the new head of state must “gain everyone’s confidence.”

Commenting on the issue of Hizbullah’s controversial arsenal of weapons, Helou said an agreement is needed at the local and international levels, describing the party as “an essential Lebanese component with whom cooperation can take place over several topics.”

Meanwhile, Helou’s bloc colleague Alaeddine Terro told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) that Helou’s withdrawal from the race “is out of the question at this time.”

Reminiscing that “there was no winner during the first round” of voting, Terro pointed out that “no one will win at the moment because no one is thinking of the national interest.”

Also on Sunday, state-run National News Agency said Health Minister Wael Abou Faour — who is close to Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat — has traveled to the Saudi city of Jeddah, “which he had also visited three days ago.”

On April 22, Jumblat announced the revival of the Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc and the nomination of its Helou for the presidency, one day before the first round of voting.

President Michel Suleiman’s tenure ends on May 25, but the constitutional period to elect a new head of state began on March 25.

Helou and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea are so far the only two candidates who have announced official nominations.

The parliament is scheduled to convene Wednesday for the second round of voting amid expectations that the needed quorum will not be met.

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