PARIS (AFP) – Lebanon’s exiled Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun told AFP in an interview that he would be ready to assume his country’s presidency should national consensus emerge after May elections. “The job that goes to the Christians (in the Lebanese political system) is that of president of the Republic,” he told AFP. “If there is a national consensus, I will assume my responsibilities at that time,” he added. “Without such a consensus, I will not stand as a candidate.” Aoun, 70, is one of the key figures of the Lebanese opposition leading the campaign seeking to end Syria’s political and military dominance of the country.

The former army general ran a military government before being ousted and forced into exile in France in 1990 by a Syrian-led offensive in the closing stages of the Lebanese civil war.

“My political role will be determined by the support that I get from my people,” Aoun told AFP.

“I could be a genius and not be supported, that would lead nowhere. If my program were to be supported, I would have a lot of political influence,” he said.

“You’ll have to follow me through the elections to see what I can do.”

On Tuesday, Lebanese Prime Minister Nagib Miqati formed a new unity government to take the troubled country towards May elections and establish a “new beginning” after two months of deep political crisis.

Tensions in Lebanon have been acute since the February 14 murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri in a massive Beirut bomb blast that prompted massive street protests and forced Syria to end its military presence there.

Syria still needs to pull out its remaining 1,500 troops from Lebanon under a pledge to complete its withdrawal by the end of the month, under pressure from the United Nations, the United States and France.

A close aide to Aoun said on April 10 that the exiled Christian opposition leader would return to Lebanon in May after the complete Syrian troop pullout in order to prepare for the legislative elections.

Aoun is still broadly popular among Lebanon’s large Christian minority, which is generally hostile to Syria’s influence and military presence in the country.