Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea announced on Monday his support for his rival Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun as president after weeks of speculation.
He declared during a joint press conference with the MP at Maarab: “I declare, after thorough assessment among the LF, the nomination of MP Michel Aoun as president.”
“The LF does not take impulsive or spontaneous decisions, but takes them after deep reflection,” he noted in an indirect reference to Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc chief MP Fouad Saniora.
The MP had earlier on Monday urged officials against taking “rushed stances” on local affairs.
“The state was on the verge of collapse so we sought an extraordinary solution, one which was not entertained by others,” Geagea added to applause among the audience.
“The vacuum in the presidency has crippled state institutions and almost led to the country's collapse,” he noted.
“From the start, we have long supported holding the presidential elections on time and in accordance with the constitution,” said Geagea.
He hoped that Aoun's nomination would lead to normalcy being restored in Lebanon, remarking that the “positive progression” of ties between the LF and Change and Reform bloc led to the adoption of the MP's nomination.
“We look forward to political cooperation and honorable competition with the Free Patriotic Movement,” he stated.
Geagea reiterated the articles of the declaration of intent that was signed between the LF and FPM in 2015.
He stressed the commitment to the National Pact, empowering the Lebanese army, and respecting international resolutions.
“I call on my allies in the March 14 coalition to adopt Aoun's nomination, especially since the aforementioned points coincide with the camp's principles,” said Geagea.
For his part, Aoun voiced his support for the principles that were listed by Geagea.
“We will not forget what Geagea has presented for Lebanon,” he continued.
“We should no longer remain attached to the past and we should look forward to building a future together,” he stressed.
“The past should not be forgotten however,” said lawmaker.
“We do not act out of spite with anyone and we have never acted out of spite,” he emphasized.
“We back coexistence between Muslims and Christians and we have never discriminated against anyone. Everyone has his place in Lebanon,” Aoun remarked.
“On this historic day, I believe we will be able to achieve what we have pledged,” he added.
Prior to the conference, Geagea had held talks with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and MP Ibrahim Kanaan, both of the Change and Reform bloc.
The two officials and Aoun had held talks earlier on Monday with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi.
The patriarch had also held a separate meeting with Saniora.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of successor.
Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps have thwarted the polls.
Mustaqbal Movement leader MP Saad Hariri launched late in 2015 a proposal to nominate Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh as president.
Geagea, Hariri's ally in the March 14 camp, was a presidential nominee at the time and observers have said that the LF leader's nomination of Aoun is a response to Mustaqbal Movement leader's proposal.