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French Version

Everyone loves Chidiac but not enough to support her

The Free Patriotic Movement said Saturday it has not yet discussed in detail the option to reach consensus over one or two candidates for the Baabda-Aley by-election. And the head of the Lebanese Forces executive committee, Samir Geagea, repeated that his party needed more time to announce its position. "The matter is not a race over one more or less parliament seat but a political cause of national importance," he said.

The criteria for the choice used by Geagea and other March 14 figures is that the seat must go "strictly to one of their own," or to a candidate who is part of "the independence uprising and supports its goals."

Chouf MP Walid Jumblatt received the National Liberal Party president Dory Chamoun, who said that the LF consider him one of three candidates along TV presenter May Chidiac and former MP Salah Honein.

Honein told The Daily Star he would remain an observer until the other parties make up their minds, without confirming or denying whether he would accept the nomination or not.

Chamoun was the first to announce his candidature, saying his decision came because his party's Higher Council urged him to run.

So far, the LF has not decided to give official support to May Chidiac, who insisted she was running as an independent and said she was seeking support of all parties and factions, especially those in the March 14 camp.

Chamoun was dismissive of the LBC anchor woman's decision."Chidiac's candidacy was not well calculated," he said. "She is not from Baabda-Aley and should not be dropped from the skies in a parachute."

Former MP Pierre Dakkash would probably be the FPM's choice for a compromise as opposed to Chamoun, who had claimed his own candidacy could lead to consensus. However, FPM leader Michel Aoun wondered: "Which side would Chamoun take eventually if he were elected?"

Geagea expected all parties "to stick to the customs of Lebanese political life," implying the seat should go to the LF because it was vacated by the death of Edmond Naim who was a member of the LF's bloc.

Aoun sees the process differently. "We have to abide by the will of the voters through the election process, which is at odds with inheritance or endorsements," he said. "The votes belong to the voters, who choose to give them to this or that candidate."

Based on Chidiac's status as a "living martyr" after a bomb attack left her severely injured, many observers believe she has more chance of winning than of any March 14 candidate.

Aoun is not one of them. "Despite our deep love and respect for Chidiac, we are not uncomfortable in not supporting her," he said. "The criterion used to justify her winning the election is not enough. There are other considerations."

Of allying with Hizbullah for the vote, Aoun said he would not call a possible agreement with the Shiite groups as an alliance. "We have one candidate only," he said. "After all, the candidate will fill a Maronite seat."

Beirut 01-02-2006
Adnan El Ghoul
The Daily Star

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