BEIRUT: Cardinal Beshara Rai on Thursday called for a consensus president as he made a rare visit to Speaker Nabih Berri’s residence in Ain al-Tineh.
“The next president should be accepted by everyone; this does not mean that he would be a weak [president],” Rai said. “On the contrary, this would be his strength. We need to unite the ranks."
Rai, who visited the speaker ahead of a visit to Rome, said it was “necessary” for him to meet Berri before traveling.
“We have always been in contact,” he said.
The cardinal also hoped the quorum for Parliament’s session to elect a president next week would be secured.
“The lawmakers have a duty to attend the parliamentary sessions because they have been elected by the people,” he said.
“I hope the quorum will be secured for next week’s session and every session so that the lawmakers meet and elect responsibly.”
Parliament convened Wednesday in the first session to elect a new president with 124 lawmakers out of 128 attending the session.
The lawmakers have until May 25, the end of President Michel Sleiman’s six-year-term, to elect a new head of state.
Berri scheduled another session next week on Wednesday for a new round of voting.
Speaking from Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport, Rai also said “the president gets elected based on his past, present and future.”
“We [should] not leave it to the last minute and get to the session without knowing who we would vote for,” he added.
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea got 48 votes in Wednesday’s session.
MP Henri Helou, who was nominated by Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, won 16 votes and Kataeb Party leader Amin Gemayel received one vote, with 52 blank votes cast by most of the March 8 coalition’s MPs.