Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh noted Sunday that he would only pull out of the presidential race should al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri decide to back Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun's nomination.
“When ex-PM Hariri decides to back General Aoun, I will withdraw my nomination,” said Franjieh in remarks to NBN television.
“I will not concede to Aoun unless the possibility of him winning the presidency becomes guaranteed,” he added, stressing that he is not willing to risk losing his own nomination.
As for the Paris meeting between him and Hariri, Franjieh revealed that he had told Hizbullah that he would “tear up” any paper of understanding between him and the ex-PM should Hizbullah reject it.
“Hariri asked me about Hizbullah's weapons and I told him that 'there is no need to discuss this issue',” al-Jadeed television quoted Franjieh as telling reporters.
“Hariri did not propose that he become prime minister during the Paris meeting,” Franjieh noted.
He also revealed that Culture Minister Rony Araiji of the Marada Movement had written down “minutes of meeting” during the Paris talks.
Separately, Franjieh emphasized that he would not attend any electoral session boycotted by Hizbullah.
His remarks come two days after Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced that his party is not willing to give up its support for Aoun in favor of Franjieh.
“We have an ethical and political commitment to support General Aoun's nomination,” said Nasrallah.
“Even if another dear friend is nominated, it will not push me to renounce my ethical commitment to General Aoun, and this does not mean that Franjieh does not deserve to become president,” Nasrallah added.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 2014 when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of successor. The blocs of Aoun and Hizbullah and some of their allies have been boycotting the electoral sessions.
Hariri launched late in 2015 a proposal to nominate Franjieh as president. Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Hariri's ally in the March 14 camp, was a presidential candidate at the time and some observers have said that the LF leader has recently nominated Aoun for the presidency as a “reaction” to Hariri's proposal, a claim Geagea has denied.
On Sunday, Franjieh revealed that the LF had proposed to back his presidential nomination in the past “in return for some demands, including that it be granted the interior ministry portfolio and guarantees that Chamel Roukoz” would not assume any post.