Lebanese Presidency saga continues: A glimpse into the 'Third Option' candidates

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2024-02-28 | 01:55
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Lebanese Presidency saga continues: A glimpse into the 'Third Option' candidates
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5min
Lebanese Presidency saga continues: A glimpse into the 'Third Option' candidates

Lebanese political salons have been preoccupied with defining the specifications of the candidates for the "third option" in the Lebanese presidential election, which has been postponed since the end of the term of former President Michel Aoun on October 31, 2022.

This article was originally published in and translated from the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Anbaa.
Activists in Lebanese political work realize that a "moment" may arise to complete the electoral process through one or more consecutive election sessions as a result of the convergence sought by foreign and Arab countries interested in Lebanese affairs, aiming to achieve a breakthrough in the country's political deadlock and ease the atmosphere of financial stability by activating the Lebanese state institutions. 

At the same time, water flows from the main fountain in the courtyard of the presidential palace in Baabda, indicating the president's occupancy of the palace.

As the chances of the candidates for the "third option" increase, referring to those accepted by the conflicting parties in the country without objection from any side, sources revealed to "Al-Anbaa" that two names have been excluded from the "third option" list for being rejected by the "Shiite duo" (Amal Movement and Hezbollah).

The two names are former minister Roger Dib (who represented the Lebanese Forces in the late 1980s and early 1990s) and former MP Salah Honein, who was associated with the March 14 Forces.

The list includes a group of fixed names, including former ministers Ziyad Baroud, Naji Boustani, and Jean-Louis Cardahi, in addition to MP Neemat Frem and former ambassador to the Vatican, former director of military intelligence in the Lebanese army Brigadier General George Khoury. 

Judge Ghaleb Ghanem is also close to the list, and several former ministers and MPs are seeking to join it, including Fares Boueiz and former officers who held senior positions in the Lebanese army.

Insiders familiar with Lebanese details agree that the "presidential winds" may blow in favor of a specific candidate depending on the prevailing circumstances at the decision to finalize the dossier.

Observers are divided over the chances of former minister and lawyer Naji Boustani. Some believe he paid the price for taking sides in the dispute between the defense minister in the caretaker government, Brigadier General Maurice Sleem, and the army commander, which led to the latter's announcement of terminating the contract with him as a legal advisor to the Ministry of Defense.

However, others believe that the commander's step may show sympathy towards Boustani, although the majority are not convinced, considering Boustani's card to have fallen.

According to sources, it is known that each candidate is ready to take over the reins of managing the country and choosing "men of the covenant." 

This contrasts with the confinement of the position of the third presidency in the government to a narrow list limited to the presidents Najib Mikati and Tammam Salam, in light of considering "the time for the return of President Saad Hariri to political work and consequently to the Serail has not come." 

Each "third option" candidate has their own approach to handling the file. Some operate openly, while others withdraw and stay out of the spotlight because they "know the rules of the presidential game in Lebanon." 

The "third option" list of candidates includes competent individuals who advocate for the state's project and for revitalizing the work of institutions in a country severely affected by an unprecedented financial crisis, with a significant paralysis extending to its official institutions and facilities.

This doesn't mean that the presidential election is put on a "hot plate," but it is the "moment" everyone awaits, signaling hope in the deadlocked political horizon since before the presidential vacancy.

Some recall the breakthrough that accompanied the election of Presidents Michel Sleiman (May 25, 2008) and Michel Aoun (October 31, 2016). 

They lean towards the idea that the settlement might extend the chances for the candidate Sleiman Frangieh, who it is fair to say had the presidency slip through his fingers twice: once in 2004 when President Emile Lahoud's term was extended for three years and again during the election of General Michel Aoun.

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