Former Lebanese president to meet Syria's Assad in Damascus

Ahram Online , Tuesday 6 Jun 2023

Former Lebanese President Michel Aoun is set to meet Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus to discuss enhancing relations, marking his first visit in 14 years, Lebanese media reported.

Michel Aoun and Bashar Assad
File photo: Former Lebanese president, Michel Aoun (then president), on a previous visit to Syrian president Bashar Assad. AFP


Aoun and former Minister Pierre Raffoul were received on the border between the two countries by Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali.

During his visit, the former president will emphasize the continuity of the strategic relationship between Lebanon and Syria, according to Lebanese channel Al-Jadeed.

According to Lebanese media outlets, his visit is not related to the deadlock around the nomination of his successor.

He claimed that his call for improved relations is not related to his refusal to support the presidential bid of Maronite Christian politician Suleiman Frangieh, who has strong ties to Assad.

Aoun warned against Frangieh's candidacy, which he believes may harm Christian unity and result in division among voters.

In Lebanon, the post of president is reserved for a member of the Maronite Christian community.

Frangieh, who leads the Marada movement, a former Maronite militia, is backed by Hezbollah, a Shia militia also aligned with Assad.

Aoun's son-in-law and current head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Gebran Bassil, has nominated an alternative presidential candidate: Jihad Azour. Azour is the former minister of finance, as well as IMF director for the Middle East and Central Asia, and has drawn the ire of Hezbollah.

Azour's candidacy has gained the backing of Lebanon's other Christian political party, the Lebanese Forces, as well as 23 independent MPs.

Lebanon is officially without a president as of Tuesday, after parliament failed to elect a successor to Aoun, whose six-year term ended on 31 October.

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