Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir Tuesday blamed Hezbollah for the ongoing presidential vacuum in Lebanon while on a visit to Paris as his French counterpart said his country would resume efforts to end the country’s political deadlock. “Hezbollah is working for Iranian interests and not for the sake of Lebanon,” Jubeir said following meetings with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault.
“They are delaying the election of a president in Lebanon and Hezbollah bears the responsibility of the presidential vacuum.”
Hezbollah and allied March 8 MPs have repeatedly prevented quorum during parliamentary sessions to elect a president. They argue that there ought to be prior agreement among the political parties on who takes the presidency.
The presidential crisis has blurred Lebanese partisan politics and divided both March 8 and March 14 camps.
Hezbollah back Free Patriotic Movement founder MP Michel Aoun for the presidency as does Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea. This is despite the fact that Geagea’s March 14 ally Future Movement head and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri backs March 8 Marada MP and leader Sleiman Frangieh.
The presidential seat has been vacant ever since the term of former President Michel Sleiman expired in May 2014.
For his part, Ayrault announced that he would be visiting Lebanon on July 11 and 12. “[We] will try to reach a solution to elect a president,” he said.
The deadlock is linked to ongoing regional competition being played out between Iran and Saudi Arabia, who back opposing sides in the race.
The head of the Middle East and North Africa Department at the French Foreign Ministry Jean-Francois Girault has made several trips to Saudi Arabia and Iran in an effort to break the Lebanese deadlock, to no avail.
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