Bassil Hails ‘Partnership’ with al-Mustaqbal, Says FPM Seeking Election of ‘Strong’ President


Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil expressed relief on Tuesday over the ongoing dialogue with al-Mustaqbal Movement, reiterating complete rejection to electing a random president to fill vacancy at the helm of the Christian’s most important post.

“We are seeking a fruitful partnership with al-Mustaqbal movement, which must have principles that are ought to be respected,” Bassil said in comments published in As Safir newspaper.

He considered that such a partnership should “lead those who are strong to power in order to build a strong country.”

“We are not ashamed to announce that we are seeking to cooperate (with al-Mustaqbal), however, we refuse to be deceived,” Bassil, who is loyal to Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and his son-in-law, stressed.

Sources told As Safir newspaper that the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, David Hale, lauded during a meeting with Bassil the dialogue between Aoun and al-Mustaqbal chief Saad Hariri.

The newspaper said that the meeting was held at the residence of a “common friend.”

“Hariri is being honest in dealing with Aoun,” Hale was quoted as saying.

Bassil told al-Joumhouria newspaper that the FPM rejects the election of “any president” only to fill the presidential vacuum.

“We are done with presidents who don’t represent us well, we should distinguish between vacuum and electing a head of state who doesn’t meet our aspirations,” the minister pointed out.

Lebanon has been plunged into a leadership vacuum after Michel Suleiman’s presidential term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader.

Over the past two months the parliament convened five times to try to elect a successor to Suleiman but failed during the last five sessions due to a lack of quorum.

Concerning the ongoing cabinet row over the mechanism regulating the government’s work during the ongoing presidential vacuum, Bassil rejected any attempts to monopolize the jurisdictions of the presidency by the cabinet.

As if we’re hinting that the role of the president is minor, the minister said.

The cabinet assumes the executive tasks of the president as stated by the constitution until a new head of state is elected.

The presidential vacuum raised fears that it would affect Lebanon’s power-sharing agreement under which the president should be a Maronite, the premier a Sunni and the speaker a Shiite.


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