Lebanon's Geagea declares support for rival Aoun as president

Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, listens during an interview with Reuters at his home in the Christian village of Maarab in the mountains overlooking the seaside town of Jounieh, October 31, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese Christian politician Samir Geagea backed his rival Michel Aoun for the presidency on Monday, in an apparent break with his Saudi-backed allies that aligns him with a civil war era enemy supported by Hezbollah.

The announcement edges 80-year-old Aoun closer to the presidency vacant for 20 months and marks a rare show of unity in a Christian community riven by divisions for years. The presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian.

Geagea made the announcement in a televised news conference sitting alongside Aoun. He also called on his allies in the March 14 alliance, led by the Saudi-backed politician Saad al-Hariri, to support Aoun’s candidacy.

Reporting by Mariam Karouny and Tom Perry; editing by Ralph Boulton