Henri Helou Says he Takes Candidacy ‘Seriously’


Aley lawmaker Henri Helou has said that he was serious about his candidacy for the presidency, reiterating that Lebanon needs a centrist head of state.

In remarks to al-Akhbar daily published on Wednesday, Helou, who received 16 votes in the first round of the polls, said: “I do take my candidacy seriously.”

“There can’t be a president who takes sides. There should be a centrist head of state,” he said.

Helou stressed that the Democratic Gathering of Progressive Socialist Party chief MP Walid Jumblat is the only centrist bloc in parliament.

Jumblat backed Helou’s candidacy last week, describing him as a “voice of moderation.”

The Aley MP garnered 16 votes during the first round, while 48 lawmakers voted for Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, one for Kataeb party chief ex-President Amin Gemayel and 52 MPs cast blank ballots.

Parliament failed to elect a president after no candidate was able to garner the needed two-thirds of votes of the 128-member parliament.

But Speaker Nabih Berri called for a second round on Wednesday although MPs are not expected to elect a president over lack of quorum caused by differences between the March 8 and 14 alliances.

Al-Akhbar said that the candidate was optimistic and denied criticism that Jumblat would be playing the role of the president if Helou was elected.

“Jumblat won’t be the president. I will,” the daily quoted him as saying.

“I listen well … but I decide alone,” he said, stressing that he would not visit parliamentary blocs to ask for support.

“My program is clear,” he said, adding “the country is heading towards vacuum and I am the solution.”

President Michel Suleiman’s six-year term ends at midnight May 24. He leaves Baabda Palace the next day.


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