Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, has reaffirmed his support for former army commander Michel Aoun’s bid to become Lebanon’s next president.
Speaking at the opening of a new university in Beirut on Wednesday, the Hezbollah leader said “General Aoun is a natural candidate and is a strong candidate and has broad-based representation.”
“We did and we still do, and we will continue to support [Aoun’s] nomination," he added.
Michel Aoun, who heads the Free Patriotic Movement, is currently one of 19 party members in the 128-seat Lebanese Parliament.
Aoun’s party hosts the majority of Maronite Christian MPs and has also enjoyed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hezbollah, the country’s largest Shiite Muslim group, since 2006.
Nasrallah’s comments came in response to criticism by the country’s Future Movement, which claims the Maronite-Shiite alliance of Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement is paralyzing the nation, the Daily Star newspaper reported.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Future Movement accused the alliance of holding them responsible for a political crisis started by Hezbollah.
“Hezbollah’s media outlets have invented a notion that there is one faction [the Future Movement] that wants to isolate and break General Aoun and Hezbollah” the statement claimed, adding it was all fabricated and used to incite people against the Future Movement.
The Future Movement, which is led by Saad Hariri - the son of assassinated former prime minister Rafik Hariri - had previously accused Hezbollah of having “all the characteristics of a terrorist party” and being a proxy of Iran.
Lebanon has been without an official president since May 2014 when former president Michel Suleiman’s term expired.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam has been the acting president of Lebanon since February, as lawmakers struggle to reach a quorum on Suleiman’s successor.