Lebanese presidential elections in Iran’s hands: minister

Published July 22nd, 2015 - 08:00 GMT

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt said it was up to Iran to facilitate the stalled Lebanese presidential election during French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius’ upcoming visit to Tehran.

“We should wait for what the Iranian side will ask for [during the meeting with Fabius],” Jumblatt said in remarks published Wednesday by pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat.

“If there was a good Iranian intention then this would facilitate matters relating to the Lebanese presidency and a consensus candidate,” he said. “But if the Iranians want to respond to the French position, which was more rigid during the negotiations on the nuclear program, then they will not get assistance.”

Furthermore, Jumblatt argued that if Iran has bad intentions regarding the stalled presidential election in Lebanon, then this suggests Tehran is seeking to change the Taif Accord, a 1989 agreement reached in Saudi Arabia to end the decades-long Lebanese Civil War.

“If the Iranian side does not give Fabius [a free hand] to facilitate the Lebanese presidential election and if there are signs of inflexibility in discussing ways to set the agenda at the Cabinet’s next meeting, then this means Iran — which believes it has scored a major victory in the nuclear agreement — hopes to change the Taif Accord, since Gen. Michel Aoun is Hezbollah’s ally and does not take any initiative without the party,” Jumblatt said.

Fabius said Tuesday he would visit Iran "next week," after the Islamic republic concluded a historic deal on its nuclear program with major world powers.

Although Fabius did not provide more precise details, his aides told AFP that the trip would likely take place next Wednesday.

Jumblatt Monday discussed Lebanon with French President Francois Hollande.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since President Michel Sleiman’s term ended in May 2014. Lawmakers from MP Michel Aoun’s bloc, Hezbollah’s bloc and its March 8 allies have been blamed for thwarting a quorum by consistently boycotting Parliament sessions.

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