(Muslim Press) - A close friend of Syrian President Bashar al - Assad said he will run for Lebanon ' s presidency, a post which has been vacant for over 18 months. In an interview with LBCI television on Thursday, Lebanese lawmaker Suleiman Franjieh announced his candidacy, sounding confident with a power-sharing proposal that would put him in the top role and make Sunni Muslim politician Saad al-Hariri prime minister. The arrangement which was vastly discussed in Lebanese media but until now not formally announced, could revive government institutions that were paralyzed by political rivalries that have been heightened by the war in neighboring Syria. Lebanon's presidency is reserved for a Maronite Christian, and Franjieh has faced competition for the post from other leading Christian figures, notably Michel Aoun, an ally of the powerful Iran-backed Shi'ite movement Hezbollah. "I am a candidate for the presidency, more than any time before," Franjieh said. Hariri, a former prime minister, said on Sunday he would pursue a power-sharing deal with Franjieh. Lebanon's prime minister is chosen by the president, who is elected by parliamentary vote. Saudi Arabia, which backs Hariri, has lent its support to the deal, while its regional foe Iran has said it hopes to see Lebanon choose a president soon. Franjieh's ties to the Assad family date back to his childhood when he accompanied his grandfather, the late President Suleiman Franjieh, on visits to Damascus to the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Franjieh used to hunt with Bashar al-Assad's older brother, Basil, who died in a car crash in 1994.