Jumblat to Bassil: Eight Democratic Gathering MPs Will Vote for Aoun
Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc leader MP Walid Jumblat informed head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Jebran Bassil that eight deputies of his bloc out of eleven will vote in favor of presidential candidate FPM founder MP Michel Aoun, well-informed sources told al-Joumhouria daily on Friday.
Sources of the Progressive Socialist Party of Jumblat, said “the final decision will be taken following a meeting between Jumblat and Aoun. The Democratic Gathering bloc will meet on Saturday to announce two major steps,” they added.
“The first announcement is withdrawing the candidacy of MP Henri Helou and the nomination of Aoun instead,” said the sources.
Helou is the candidate of the PSP.
On Thursday, a delegation from the FPM held talks with presidential candidate Helou.
After the meeting, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab of the FPM hailed Helou's position and said: “The stance that was voiced in MP Helou's statement was responsible and it reflects a great patriotic sense and it opened the door for agreements.”
Helou for his part said the final decision on his nomination would be announced after a meeting for the Democratic Gathering bloc.
After initially endorsing Helou's nomination, Jumblat shifted his support for Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh after the latter was endorsed by ex-PM Saad Hariri in late 2015.
But after Hariri formally endorsed Aoun's nomination last Thursday, Jumblat has voiced support for what he described as a “settlement” and several members of his bloc are expected to vote for Aoun.
Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and Hizbullah, Aoun's Change and Reform bloc and some of their allies have been boycotting the parliament's electoral sessions, stripping them of the needed quorum.
Hariri had launched an initiative in late 2015 to nominate Hizbullah's ally Franjieh for the presidency but his proposal was met with reservations from the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.
The supporters of Aoun's nomination have argued that he is more eligible than Franjieh to become president due to the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.