MP Simon Abi Ramia confirmed on Wednesday that “the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) MPs will not vote for Sleiman Frangieh” on June 14, at the parliamentary electoral session. He added that they would vote either for former minister and opposition candidate Jihad Azour, or by casting a blank ballot. “But that this should not be interpreted as a sign of division within the party,” he added, noting that discussions were still ongoing on this matter.

In an interview with LBCI channel, Mr. Abi Ramia announced that the choice of Jihad Azour was made “in order to prevent Sleiman Frangieh from being elected and not with the aim of electing Mr. Azour.” “It is also a way of sending a message to Amal and Hezbollah saying that Frangieh’s election is impossible,” he added.

He believed that the two Shiite parties choosing Frangieh as a candidate was a strategic mistake on their part, as it sparked opposition among the Christian street that was politically divided.

Mr. Abi Ramia presented two scenarios for the June 14 electoral session. According to him, in the first one, the session will not take place under the pretext of division. In the second one, the session will be held but will be used, in the first round, to tally the votes obtained by Mr. Azour and Mr. Frangieh.

He presented himself as Michel Aoun’s “ideological” son, insisting that no one could exclude him from the FPM: “I am one of the party’s founders and I share the same cause as President Michel Aoun.” Mr. Abi Ramia asserted that there was no competition between him and FPM leader Gebran Bassil.

Reports of a rebellion within the FPM ranks against Gebran Bassil’s leadership have been circulating ever since Bassil decided to join the opposition in support of Jihad Azour’s candidacy. Mr. Abi Ramia is one of those slingers, along with Ibrahim Kanaan and Alain Aoun.

In response to a question about President Aoun’s visit to Syria, Mr. Abi Ramia said he was convinced that the former Lebanese President and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not discuss internal Lebanese issues.