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Upon his arrival in Beirut on Tuesday afternoon, French President Emmanuel Macron’s personal envoy for Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, met with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

The meeting was of a strictly ceremonial nature, as the French emissary, like all the Lebanese, is well aware that he cannot hope to make headway with Mikati on the two issues of the presidential election and the war in South Lebanon.

Le Drian, who will conclude his mission of good offices in Beirut on Wednesday, also held a meeting at Clemenceau with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and Progressive Socialist Party chief Teymour Jumblatt. He met afterwards with Marada leader Sleiman Frangieh, who is the presidential candidate of Amal and Hezbollah.

Walid Jumblatt stressed during his meeting with the French envoy on the need for Lebanon to have a president, whatever the cost. He told Le Drian that he would back any candidate who enjoyed substantial Christian support and could guarantee a quorum in his favor, should Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri call a parliamentary meeting. Jumblatt also reaffirmed that he is not against the election of Sleiman Frangieh, if the necessary conditions for this election are met, and that he is also unreservedly in favor of Berri’s call for dialogue. At the same time, however, he made it clear that he did not wish to embarrass Berri by pushing him to commit to convening an electoral parliamentary session, with successive rounds and an assured quorum.

Roughly speaking, what Le Drian has heard and will hear tomorrow, Wednesday, are the same arguments related to the presidential elections. He is due to be received on Wednesday by Berri, who is also speaking on behalf of Hezbollah, which is determined not to tackle the issue of the presidential election seriously while the war in Gaza continues.

Le Drian is preparing to hear recurrent remarks from the Speaker of Parliament. This rhetoric initially depends on demonstrating that this duo wishes for the election of a president as soon as possible, albeit under their terms, with only one candidate: Sleiman Frangieh. Therefore, Berri will continue to call for dialogue without offering any commitments on measures that would inevitably lead to the election of a president should the dialogue or consultation fail.

Le Drian won’t be able to break the presidential deadlock. Opposition forces, led by the Lebanese Forces (LF), will emphasize that the ball isn’t in their court and that pressure must be exerted on the Amal-Hezbollah duo to convene an electoral session, given that almost a year has passed since the last presidential election session. Moreover, they consider that this session must be held with a full quorum and involve prompt consultations to explore the potential for consensus on a candidate. Should consensus fail, the process should proceed with quorate consecutive rounds of voting until the future president is elected.

The opposition strongly urges Hezbollah to dissociate the war in the South from the presidency, given that they do not fully believe in this connection, noting that the obstruction of the presidential election predated the October 7 war events. The issues Le Drian aims to address with the Quintet Committee (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, the US and France) today echo those used for obstruction before the war. Now, they are compounded by the ramifications of the war, Hezbollah’s already proclaimed victory and the political cost imposed thereafter, including the identity of Baabda’s president.