The possibility of former Finance minister Jihad Azour as a potential presidential candidate of the two main Christian parties, the Lebanese Forces (LF) and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), has triggered a scathing attack on Monday by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, who are backing Marada leader Sleiman Frangieh.
Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement criticized the “amateurs” in the opposition for contemplating Azour’s nomination, characterizing it as “lacking seriousness.”
“They are playing with the names of potential candidates in order to block the sole serious candidate to date. It is a mere political act of resentment that further sabotages the chance of salvaging the country,” said a communique by the group’s political bureau.
“While we have been keen on preserving Lebanon’s higher interest and taking steps to exit the country from the current trap, the other parties, which have nothing in common, are undergoing a caesarian operation to get together, motivated by political hatred,” the communique added.
Hezbollah’s disapproval of Azour’s possible nomination was vented by the head of the Resistance and Liberation bloc MP Mohammad Raad who described the move as “a maneuver aimed at confronting and defeating the candidate that we support.”
Speaking at the inauguration of a medical dispensary he called on the opposition “to stop wasting time and prolonging the presidential deadlock.”
It will be recalled that Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has appealed for an unconditional dialogue to end the presidential stalemate in a speech that marked the 23rd anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon on March 25th.
Nasrallah has also called on the opposing camp to agree on a candidate which would enter the race with Frangieh, but the fact that an accord could be reached over the nomination of Azour, an economist and current Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department of the International Monetary Fund, has generated a wave of condemnations on the part of the “Shiite Duo.”
Speaker Berri declared earlier this month his hope for a president to be elected by June 15th and his readiness to convene an electoral session at any time.
A source close to Hezbollah and Amal circles argued that the two groups are not convinced that Azour’s candidature is credible.
“So far, Azour’s nomination is not definite and it is not clear if such a move is serious or a tactic to put forward another candidate,” the source told This is Beirut.