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Iran denies claim of meddling in Lebanon presidential election

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Lebanese Christian politician Samir Geagea

Iran’s embassy in Lebanon has firmly rejected recent claims by Lebanese politician Samir Geagea about Tehran, saying the Islamic Republic is not interfering in Lebanon’s internal affairs, including the country’s presidential election.

In an interview on LBCI TV on Thursday, Leader of the Lebanese Forces Political Party Geagea claimed that the Iranian ambassador to Beirut has told “Western diplomats to ask the Vatican to convince” Michel Aoun, a veteran Christian politician and founder of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), to withdraw his nomination “so that the presidential election can be held.”

In a statement on Friday, the embassy said the Iranian envoy has made no recommendation nor has it given any piece of advice to any domestic or foreign sides including Westerners or non-Westerners about presidential candidates in Lebanon.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran always regards the election of Lebanon’s president as a very domestic issue and based on its Constitution and strategic policy …, it will not interfere in this case,” it added.

It warned that any foreign meddling with Lebanon’s presidential election would further complicate the issue.

In a televised news conference on January 18, Geagea made a highly-anticipated announcement, saying he would endorse the candidacy of his rival Aoun, in a major boost for Hezbollah-backed FPM founder and his supporters in their bid to fill the power vacuum in the Arab country.

Since May 2014, when former President Michel Sleiman ended his time in office, Lebanon has been without a president.

Under Lebanon’s power-sharing system, the president must be a Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shia Muslim.

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