Lebanese Hezbollah Supports Pro-Syrian Politician to Become President

Beirut —

The powerful Hezbollah group in Lebanon, Monday (6/3), backed a presidential candidate. It is a move that looks unlikely to resolve the impasse that has left the crisis-hit country without a head of state for months.

In a televised address, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah stated that “The candidate we are supporting… is Sleiman Frangieh.”

The Iran-backed Shiite movement has had a major influence on political life in Lebanon. But opposition from the country’s two main Christian parties has prevented the pro-Syrian Frangieh from gaining majority support in the divided parliament.

Nasrallah’s announcement comes days after the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri also declared support for Frangieh. But Frangieh has yet to publicly announce he will run.

It has been three years that Lebanon has been mired in an economic crisis that the World Bank has called one of the worst in recent global history. The country has been without a president since Michel Aoun’s term ended in late October. Politically leaderless, Lebanon has been run by a caretaker government with limited powers since May.

Frangieh, 57, is a close friend of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He has long been considered one of Hezbollah’s picks for president.

Lebanon’s sectarian political elite is widely blamed for the country’s current predicament. Lawmakers have held 11 rounds of voting to name Aoun’s successor, but neither candidate has garnered enough votes. [ka/jm]

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