| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

French envoy pledges to facilitate dialogue between Lebanese parties

French presidential envoy former foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian pledged to facilitate a constructive and inclusive dialogue between Lebanese political forces to reach a consensual and effective solution to end the presidential vacuum.

He concluded a visit to Beirut where he met various representatives of parliamentary blocs and three presidential candidates: head of the Marada movement, Suleiman Franjieh, former minister Ziad Baroud, and commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces General Joseph Aoun.

The visit came in light of sharp political difference that have been preventing the election of a president for eight months.

During a press conference, Le Drian said he visited Beirut at the request of President Emmanuel Macron, who appointed him as his special envoy for Lebanon.

He indicated that during his first visit, he wanted to hear what the civil, religious, and military authorities had to say and would submit a report on this mission to the president upon his return to France.

The envoy announced he would return in the coming weeks, pledging to facilitate dialogue between the local forces to end the impasse and carry out the necessary reforms for Lebanon’s sustainable advancement.

The envoy concluded his visit by meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Abdallah Bou Habib, accompanied by the French Ambassador, Anne Grillo.

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry said Le Drian briefed Bou Habib on his meetings with Lebanese parties and that he will soon continue his contacts with them.

MP Ashraf Rifi said on Saturday that France was aware that people have the right to determine their destiny and enjoy the freedom of choice.

After meeting with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, he added that Le Drian is attempting to persuade the Shiite duo of Hezbollah and the Amal movement to abandon Franjieh’s nomination given that the Christians refuse for Hezbollah to name their presidential candidate.

The president in Lebanon is always a Maronite Christian.

The same goes for the Sunnis, who oppose Nawaf Salam’s appointment as prime minister, because he does not represent them, continued Rifi. The position of PM is always a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon.

The lawmaker said Le Drian was more of a listener than a speaker, in that he asked officials how they would describe the situation in Lebanon and how they would resolve the crisis.

Rifi said his answer was simple: The need to hold successive presidential elections sessions in line with the constitution until a candidate is elected.

Meanwhile Free Patriotic Movement MP Simon Abi Ramia said France is still backing Franjieh’s run for president.

However, Le Drian did not come to Lebanon to promote France’s initiative regarding Franjieh. He noted.

Meanwhile, former minister Jihad Azour, who is backed by the opposition, FPM and independent and Change MPs, is still running for the presidency, the MP went on to say.

Abi Ramia remarked, however, that neither candidate can secure enough votes in the elections to become president given the ongoing division between the rival camps and the MPs’ constitutional right to withdraw from the electoral sessions, thus disrupting quorum.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat