Lebanese Bassil leaves door open for presidency bid
Senior Lebanese politician Gebran Bassil stated on Thursday that he was trying to identify a middle-ground candidate for the presidency who could drive through important reforms, but that if he thought the chosen candidate was a bad one, he would compete for the position himself.
Since Michel Aoun’s presidency expired on October 31, Lebanon has been without a head of state or a fully functional cabinet, an unusual situation even by the norms of a nation that has had little stability since independence.
The void heralds a new stage in the crisis that has gripped Lebanon since its financial system imploded in 2019, leaving a sizable portion of the population in poverty, paralyzing the banking sector, and sparking the largest emigration surge since the 1975–1990 civil war.
The position of president is designated for Christians, but tensions within the community and important political and religious balances in the nation are also reflected in some aspects of the impasse.
Bassil, a Maronite Christian and one of Lebanon’s most powerful politicians, told Reuters: “I see that the existence of Lebanon is much more important than this and it’s now the existence of Lebanon that is at stake. I am the head of the biggest parliamentary bloc and it is my total right to be the candidate and promote myself.”
“I decided not to apply in order to avoid the opening and make it easier to create a strong profile with a good chance of success. I didn’t do this so there would be a void and a horrible person to fill it,” he said. “I won’t stand for having a lousy president, and in that event, I would run,” he declared.