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32 deputies nominate the official in the Monetary Fund, former Minister Jihad Azour, for the presidency of Lebanon


Since the end of former President Michel Aoun’s term at the end of October, the Lebanese parliament has failed for 11 sessions to elect a president, amid a division between a party that supports Hezbollah, the most prominent political and military force, and another that opposes it, and discrepancies within each party, and the presence of independents.

On Sunday, 32 Lebanese deputies announced the nomination of an official in the International Monetary Fund, former minister Jihad Azour, for the post of president of the republic, after more than seven months of presidential vacancy.

For weeks, the most prominent Christian parties, the Lebanese Forces, the Free Patriotic Movement, and the Kataeb, have been seeking to agree on Azour in a country where the first three presidencies are distributed on a sectarian basis: the presidency of the Republic for the Maronites, the presidency of the Parliament for the Shiites, and the presidency of the Council of Ministers for the Sunnis.

The announcement of Azour’s candidacy comes after extensive contacts between opposition blocs and the Free Patriotic Movement, the most prominent Christian ally of Hezbollah and who opposed it on the issue of the presidency of the republic, which ended with a “intersection” on Azour’s name.

During a press conference, Representative Mark Daou read out a statement on behalf of 32 deputies announcing Azour’s candidacy, “as a moderate convergence candidate that is not provocative to any political component in the country.”

The 32 deputies represent opposition blocs, most notably the Lebanese Forces party, which has a strong parliamentary bloc, and the Christian Phalange, as well as MP Michel Moawad and independent deputies and a few others, belonging to the Changeists bloc emanating from the protests against the political class in 2019.

They previously supported Moawad, who was the first to run for the position, before announcing on Sunday that he was withdrawing his candidacy to give Azour an opportunity.

The head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, who rejected Franjieh’s candidacy, announced the “intersection” of his party with other parliamentary blocs named after Azour, despite the rivalry that brings him together with a number of them.

On the other hand, Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal Movement, led by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, support the candidacy of their ally Suleiman Franjieh, who is close to Damascus.

“Do not tire yourselves and waste time, the candidate of challenge and confrontation will not reach Baabda, whatever his name is,” said Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah, according to what was reported by local media. Hezbollah officials had previously described Moawad as a “challenging” candidate.

It is not clear when Berri will call for a new parliamentary session to elect a president. So far, no party has a parliamentary majority to enable it to field its candidate.

Azour holds the position of Director of the Middle East and Central Asia Department at the International Monetary Fund, and he held the position of Lebanese Minister of Finance between 2005 and 2008.

Azour holds, according to the IMF website, a doctorate in international financial sciences and a higher degree in international economics and financial sciences.

The international community is urging officials to elect a president, and Paris is leading a movement in order to expedite this in order to carry out urgent reforms, which is a major condition for Lebanon to obtain international financial support to get it out of its ongoing economic crisis since 2019.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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