Exclusive to The Middle East Online
Edited by Nelly Tawil
On Thursday night Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk revealed that former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s nomination of MP Sleiman Frangieh for the presidency was initially proposed by Britain, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
“MP Sleiman Prangieh’s nomination did not come from Saad Hariri. But from the British Foreign Ministry and later from the Americans, Saudi Arabia and Hariri,” Machnouk announced during an interview.
He said Frangieh’s candidacy for the country’s top Christian post was a result of an international decision that “a guarantor president is better than a regime guarantee.”
“This is what the West has believed in and that’s why Hariri supported Frangieh for the presidency,” Machnouk added.
Hezbollah and some of March 8 allies and the Lebanese Forces support his opposition, MP Michel Aoun. Both Aoun and Frangieh belong to the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition.
Hariri has attempted to persuade Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, to bring both parties together in a meeting to convince one of them to bow out of the race in order to conclude the presidential impasse.
Earlier in the day, Machnouk, a key figure in the Future Movement, reiterated that priority is for the election of a president.
“We are all in agreement that if there is a priority now to ensure stability of the system, security of the Lebanese and the persistence of a minimum of security amid the fires raging around us, it is the election of a president.” Machnouk told reporters after meeting with Prim Minister Tammam Salam at the Grand Serail. “This system can not function without a president.”
The importance of the election has been stressed by former Prime Minister Fouad Sinora who explained that priority should be given to terminating the presidential vacuum, which has entered its third year with no end in sight.
“The election of a president is what counts. The president has a fundamental role in considering an electoral law, commenting on it, or probably rejecting it,” the head of the parliamentary Future bloc, Siniora said.
“The president is a symbol of the country’s unity and is the one who can bring all [the parties] to a common ground. He is the one who can play a role in reaching [an agreement] on a modern [electoral] law, he added. “Priority is to the election of a president. Therefore, we should not continue in the admission of some using the Lebanese card for purposes [serving powers] outside Lebanon.”
Siniora’s remarks also came a day after joint parliamentary committees failed to reach an agreement on a new voting system to replace the controversial 1960 law.