Hariri, Bassil Agree on Importance to Avoid Presidential Vacuum

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Al-Mustaqbal movement leader former PM Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil have agreed on the importance of holding the presidential elections on time to avoid vacuum, the FM and sources said.

Hariri and Bassil, who is a Free Patriotic Movement official and MP Michel Aoun’s son-in-law, held a meeting in Paris on Tuesday on the eve of the second round of the presidential elections.

The sources told several local dailies published on Wednesday that the two sides agreed to avoid vacuum and to hold more consultations so that the presidential polls are held on time.

President Michel Suleiman will leave Baabda Palace on May 25.

Hariri and Bassil also agreed to keep contacts between al-Mustaqbal and the FPM to preserve the positive atmosphere that reigned after the formation of Premier Tammam Salam’s cabinet, the sources said.

But neither Hariri nor Bassil discussed the names of the candidates for the presidency, they added.

Pan-Arab daily al-Hayat quoted the FM as saying that his meeting with Hariri was “positive.”

“We reject vacuum and we want the election of a president,” he told the newspaper.

In the first round of presidential elections last week, MPs failed to elect a head of state over lack of consensus on one person.

Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea received the votes of only 48 MPs while 16 lawmakers voted for Aley lawmaker Henri Helou, one for Kataeb party chief ex-President Amin Gemayel and 52 MPs from the March 8 alliance, which includes the FPM’s membership, cast blank ballots.

FPM chief Michel Aoun has repeatedly said that he would not run for president if there was no consensus on him.

“Aoun’s candidacy hinges on the understanding with Hariri,” Bassil told al-Hayat.

Speaker Nabih Berri, who has called for a second round of presidential elections on Wednesday, was quoted as saying that “there was nothing tangible yet” from the Hariri-Bassil meeting.

“Any progress or agreement between the two sides would take time to appear,” he said.

The lack of agreement between them is expected to lead to another failure in the presidential elections. March 8 lawmakers, except for Berri’s bloc, would boycott the parliamentary session on Wednesday.

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