Iran denies involvement in Lebanese political crisis over presidency

Published June 5th, 2016 - 10:00 GMT
People walk past posters of Lebanese candidates running in the country's municipal election. (AFP/File)
People walk past posters of Lebanese candidates running in the country's municipal election. (AFP/File)

Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mohammad Fathali denied Sunday that his country was interfering in the Lebanese presidency crisis, following similar statements made by other foreign officials in recent days.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the votes that come out of ballot boxes in any country should be taken into account and respected. Iran does not allow itself to interfere in the internal issues of other countries, especially the presidency issue in Lebanon,” he said.

Fathali spoke during a commemoration of the 27th anniversary of the death of Iran’s former supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the southern city of Tyre.

Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad defended the ambassador’s statement, saying Iran was always ready to help Lebanon.

“Despite all these attempts to involve Iran in the midst of the presidential vacancy, it (Iran) has left this issue for the Lebanese (to decide),” he said.

“Iran (will) bless any decision the Lebanese make," he added. "This is contrary to what we have been hearing that the decision lies within foreign and international circles, which is an insult to the Lebanese.”

Earlier this week, Britain and Saudi Arabia’s embassies in Lebanon also denied involvement in the presidency issue, in response to claims made by Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk.

Machnouk had claimed that the decision to nominate Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh for the country's top post was initially proposed by the British Foreign Office and endorsed by Riyadh.

While Future Movement leader Saad Hariri supports Frangieh, Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces back Change and Reform bloc leader Michel Aoun.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since the tenure of Michel Sleiman ended in May 2014, the longest presidency vacuum that the country has witnessed.

Forty parliamentary sessions to elect a new president have so far failed due to ongoing rifts between rivals.

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