ASIA/LEBANON - Much to one’s surprise, Geagea has decided to support former "enemy" Aoun in the presidential election

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 politics

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - Much to one’s surprise, the leader of the Lebanese Forces party Samir Geagea has announced the availability of his political formation to support the candidacy of former General Michel Aoun to the office of President of the Lebanese Republic.
The initiative is destined to overturn the system of alliances and conflicts that have long characterized the political landscape of Lebanon, and brought the Country to an institutional paralysis that has prevented to elect a new President for 18 months.
Geagea and Aoun, both Maronite Christians, in recent decades have always been opponents and the political parties they lead are lined up on opposing sides, both internally and internationally. The Lebanese Forces, together with the "Future" Sunni party led by Saad Hariri, are part of the so-called "14 March Coalition", supported by Saudi Arabia and hostile to Assad's Syria, while Aoun’s "Free Patriotic Movement" is allied with the Hezbollah Shiite party - even militarily deployed alongside the Syrian regime - and is part of the "8 March Coalition".
"After a long reflection, lengthy discussions and deliberations of the Executive Committee", during a press conference held yesterday with former rival Geagea said that, "the Lebanese Forces have announced their support for the candidacy of General Michel Aoun to the presidency".
The decision - explained the leader of the Lebanese Forces was taken with "the hope of achieving a more stable situation" in the Country of the Cedars. Aoun, on his behalf, stressed the need to "build the future" and "turn page on the past".
Yesterday, several Maronite political leaders - including Geagea and Aoun - had meetings with Maronite Patriarch Boutros Bechara Rai. The alliance between the two Maronite political formations - led by the Sunni Party of Saad Hariri and backed by Saudi Arabia – sets aside the recent attempt to find consensus on the candidacy of Suleiman Franjieh (who yesterday, after the meeting with Patriarch Rai, announced via twitter that he does not wish to withdraw from the elections).
Michel Aoun is 82 years old. In the delicate institutional system of Lebanon, the President of the Republic is reserved to a Maronite Christian. "As a young priest", says to Fides Fr. Rouphael Zgheib, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon, "I still remember with dismay when during the years of the civil war Maronite factions were on opposing sides and fought with ferocity. What happened is surprising, and among Christians was greeted with relief, but we hope it is not too late. Because this agreement alone cannot change everything. Let us see what the reactions in the region will be, and also how the Muslim political Lebanese factions, both Shiite and Sunni, react, who so far have been silent. We can not say that everything is settled". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 19/01/2016)