Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt resigns from the presidency of the Progressive Socialist Party

On Thursday, Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt announced his sudden resignation from the presidency of the Progressive Socialist Party.

Jumblatt, a prominent Druze leader, has led a party that has held a pivotal position in Lebanese political life since its founding in 1949.

In his announcement, Jumblatt called for a general election conference to be held on June 25, in accordance with the provisions of the party’s constitution and internal regulations.

He instructed the General Secretariat to complete the necessary preparations, including issuing notifications related to nomination requests, withdrawal dates, and all conditions related to the electoral process.

In addition, the Secretariat will prepare lists of conference members and send out invitations.

Jumblatt’s decision is rare because leaders usually do not voluntarily give up their positions. Most of the leaders who participated in the Lebanese Civil War continued to hold the political positions they assumed after the war.

Jumblatt inherited the leadership of the party from his father, Kamal Jumblatt, who was assassinated on March 16, 1977. He led the party during the darkest stages of the Lebanese civil war.

The Progressive Socialist Party is currently represented in the Lebanese Parliament by the Democratic Gathering bloc headed by Jumblatt’s son, Representative Taymour Jumblatt, and consisting of nine deputies.

Timur is likely to take over the presidency of the Progressive Socialist Party through the elections.

In 2017, on the occasion of the anniversary of the founder of the Progressive Socialist Party, Kamal Jumblatt, Walid Jumblatt took the symbolic step of handing over the mantle of leadership to his son by donning the abaya (traditional garment) to him.

It was a social one, followed by a political gesture indicating the gradual transfer of the Druze leadership to his son in 2022.

In recent weeks, there have been reports of differences of opinion between Walid Jumblatt and his son Timur regarding the approach to electing the next president.

Lebanon is currently going through an acute political crisis, as parliament has failed to elect a new president during 11 electoral sessions since September 2022.

This comes as a replacement for Michel Aoun, whose term ended in October 2022. Lebanon is now entering its seventh month without a president.

A political observer indicated that Jumblatt took a moderate position in the presidential elections, considering the possibility of accepting the Hezbollah-backed candidate, Suleiman Franjieh, the leader of the Marada Movement.

However, Representative Taymour Jumblatt rejects this candidate and insists on new directions. He stressed the need for a change in the leadership and political performance in Lebanon.

Jumblatt denied the existence of any differences with his son and expressed his desire to “make room for the new generation.” He said: “I became part of the history and the past, and the future of Timur and his vision.”

“Jumblatt’s resignation is an internal organizational movement and a natural step in the electoral process,” Dhafer Nasser, Secretary General of the Progressive Socialist Party, told Arab News.

In response to a question about whether the party’s base will return Jumblatt to the presidency of the party, or whether his son Timur will inherit the presidency, Nasser said: “Next week we will open the door for nominations and we will see who comes forward. I understand that there are many questions, but there are no answers at the moment. All What I can say is that it is an organizational step, and we don’t want to skip any stages.”

Nasser renewed Jumblatt’s statement that there were no political differences between him and his son.

Does Jumblatt’s resignation mean his retirement from politics? Nasser said, “Resignation does not mean retirement from political work at all.”

Jumblatt is known for his opposition to the Syrian regime, especially after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

He was one of the founders of the March 14 coalition and participated in the Cedar Revolution against the Syrian domination of Lebanon.

Jumblatt also joined forces with the leader of the Amal Movement, Nabih Berri, in the February 6, 1984 uprising in Beirut, which resulted in the fall of the May 17 agreement between Lebanon and Israel.

He entered the House of Representatives in 1991 after the signing of the Taif Agreement that ended the civil war.

Jumblatt held various ministerial positions, most notably the Minister of Public Works, Tourism and Immigrant Affairs.

Jumblatt also testified as a witness before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, charged with investigating the Hariri assassination. His testimony was considered directly related to the assassination and the reasons he believed led to it.

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