Syrian President Bashar Assad has described Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun as an “honest man,” saying he would welcome his election as a president.
In an interview with al-Akhbar daily published on Wednesday, Assad said: “Aoun is an honorable and honest man who fought with dignity and reconciled with dignity.” Aoun “remained loyal to his stance towards us despite all the storms,” he said.
The Syrian president stressed that his country does not interfere in the local affairs of any Arab state. “But we welcome Aoun's election as a president for being in Lebanon's interest and in the interest of friendly ties,” he said. The FPM chief is “patriotic, non confessional and believes in the resistance,” Assad added.
Lebanon has been without a president since May 25 when Michel Suleiman left Baabda Palace over the failure of MPs to agree on a successor.
Assad is due to be sworn in for a new term on July 17. He was allegedly reelected last week as voting took place only in regime-held territory, amid a raging conflict that has killed more than 162,000 people in three years, and excluded any anti-regime opponents from standing.
Syria's opposition is backed by much of the international community, while Assad's government is supported by Hezbollah and its backer Iran, as well as Russia.
The party has sent its fighters to Syria to battle alongside Assad's regime. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has only “shown compassion, which neither Syria nor Syrians would forget,” Assad said.