Geagea's support for Aoun's presidential bid puts Hezbollah to the test

by Elias Sakr English

15 January 2016 | 21:27

Source: by Annahar

  • by Elias Sakr
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 15 January 2016 | 21:27

This file photo shows Hezbollah's Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah (R) meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri (3rd R), MP Michel Aoun (C), and MP Suleiman Franjieh (2nd R). (Reuters photo)

BEIRUT: The Future Movement and its allies have long argued that Hezbollah's unconditional support for former General Michel Aoun's presidential bid serves only one purpose: to obstruct the election of a president and accelerate the disintegration of state institutions in a bid to pave the way for a revamp of the Taif Accord.

This theory will be put to the test if and when Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea endorses Aoun's candidacy.

How will Hezbollah react then? Will the party exert pressure on its ally Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh to withdraw his candidacy? And if that fails, will it require its ally Speaker Nabih Berri to endorse Aoun's candidacy? Or will Hezbollah take an observer-based approach leaving Aoun and Franjieh to battle it out in parliament?

Inviting Aoun and Franjieh to a showdown in parliament, as Speaker Nabih Berri has recently suggested, leaves much room for conjecture.

Assuming that former Prime Minister Saad Hariri's parliamentary bloc will vote in favor of Franjieh and that lawmakers from Hezbollah and the LF will back Aoun, the outcome of the presidential election will hinge mainly on the votes of lawmakers from Berri's Amal Movement, the Kataeb party, the Progressive Socialist Party and so-called Independent MPs.

With no guarantees that the Kataeb party, Berri and MP Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party will support his presidential bid allied to the risk of losing to Franjieh when push comes to shove, Aoun is unlikely to attend a general assembly meeting dedicated to the election of a president.

In other words, Hezbollah's unwillingness to pressure Franjieh into withdrawing his candidacy or guaranteeing that Berri's parliamentary bloc votes in favor of Aoun, infers that the party is in no hurry to facilitate the election of a president, Aoun included.

Under this scenario, some will argue that Hezbollah is wary of what Aoun had promised Geagea in exchange for his support. After all, Geagea has long spearheaded the movement that calls for Hezbollah's disarmament.

Others will recall a decade-old theory: Hezbollah wants the presidential vacuum to endure in order to lay the groundwork for a constitutional convention.

In any case, it is unlikely that the Taif Accord will survive.

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