Outgoing president praises Hezbollah’s role in maritime deal with Israel
Michel Aoun said US sanctions would not prevent Gebran Bassil from running for president
By News Desk - October 30 2022

(Photo Credit: Reuters)

In an interview with Reuters before his departure from office on 30 October, outgoing Lebanese President Michel Aoun remarked that Hezbollah’s role was helpful as a “deterrent” throughout the indirect negotiations to demarcate the maritime borders with Israel. In his opinion, the strength of the resistance helped Lebanon overcome the hesitation that prevailed.

During an interview with the Lebanese Al-Manar channel, reported in a statement by the Presidency of the Republic on 29 October, Aoun said force is necessary, however, it must act as a deterrent, have a particular discipline, and not be used arbitrarily.

He pointed out that the demarcation of the maritime borders, and the extraction of oil, is “the hope for the Lebanese who are living a severe and difficult catastrophe,” as the poverty rate in Lebanon has increased from 25% to 75%. 

In statements to Reuters, the former military general and president said that Hezbollah, which deployed drones on Israel’s front-line and threatened to attack offshore drilling platforms several times, was a “deterrent” in the matter of continuing negotiations in the interest of Lebanon.

The Lebanese politician said US sanctions would not prevent Gebran Bassil from running for president. “He certainly has the right to run for the presidency,” he added. In response to a question, he said, “Yes, it is reasonable for constitutional chaos to occur. The vacuum does not fill the vacuum.” About the sanctions, Aoun said, “We erase them as soon as he [Bassil] is elected.”

Gebran Bassil, a controversial figure among the Lebanese people, has served as the Free Patriotic Movement leader since 2015. He is the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun and has been his most senior advisor since 2005.

Lebanon and Israel reached the maritime border demarcation agreement at the UN headquarters in Naqoura, southern Lebanon, after the head of the executive authority in both countries signed it, following months of negotiations and back-and-forth threats.

Aoun went on to say that his country may slip into “constitutional chaos” because of the inability to elect a new president to succeed him, under a caretaker government which he accuses of not having full power. 

Four electoral sessions have failed to elect a president in light of the split in Parliament after the May elections, as the political blocs could not reach a consensus on a candidate to succeed Aoun. 

The outgoing president left the presidential palace in Baabda on Sunday, following his 6-year term, saying this was not the end of his political career. 

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