Suleiman Warns of ‘Vengeance’ Scenario, Does not Regret Stance from Hizbullah

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President Michel Suleiman has expressed fears that a top member of either the March 8 or 14 alliance would use his power in the country’s top Christian post to take vengeance from his foes if he was elected president.

In an interview with As Safir newspaper published on Tuesday, Suleiman said: “I am afraid that one of them could come into office so that he takes vengeance from the others.”“I don’t care about the consensual candidate … He could be committed at first but could exercise” something else, the president, who leaves Baabda Palace after the expiry of his term on Sunday, said.

“Most candidates are competent and (Free Patriotic Movement leader) Michel Aoun is one of them,” Suleiman told As Safir. But he expressed fear of “collision” between the rival parties when he was asked if he backed any of the top Maronite political leaders.

Under the National Pact of 1943, the president should be a Maronite.

Parliament has failed to elect a new president in the past four rounds of polls over the boycott of the March 8 alliance, which claims there should be a prior agreement on a consensual president.

Aoun, who is a member of the alliance and has not officially announced his candidacy, has considered himself a consensual candidate.

But his rival Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea – the March 14 camp’s sole candidate – mocked Aoun’s claims on Monday, saying his alliance with Hizbullah does not make him a consensual president.

A new round of elections is set to take place on Thursday, a few days before the expiry of Suleiman’s six-year tenure.

The president told As Safir in the interview that he did not regret his repeated calls on Hizbullah to pull its fighters from Syria.

“They should be the ones regretting, not me,” he said about Hizbullah’s lack of commitment to the Baabda Declaration under which the rival sides, including the party, pledged in 2012 to distance Lebanon from the region’s crises.

Ties between Suleiman and Hizbullah deteriorated in the past months over the party’s involvement in Syria’s civil war.

Suleiman also stressed that he has never verbally attacked Syria.

“I was once asked about (former Minister) Michel Samaha’s case and I said I am waiting for a phone call from President (Bashar) Assad to explain the situation to me,” Suleiman told his interviewer.

Samaha, who is considered close to the Syrian regime, is on trial for planning attacks in Lebanon along with two Syrian officials.

G.K.

H.K.

 

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