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Hariri reiterates opposition to presidential vacuum

  • Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, left, shakes hands with former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Cairo, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday reiterated his opposition to a vacuum in the presidential post, saying he will meet with Maronite Cardinal Beshara Rai in Rome to discuss the Spring election.

Hariri, who is currently in Cairo, also said Hezbollah should look at Syria’s conflict from the viewpoint of Lebanon, condemning Wednesday’s twin suicide bombings.

“I will head to Rome [today] to meet with the patriarch. [The meeting ] comes after we formed a government and aims to address the presidential election, which is the main topic of the next stage, and to see what the patriarch’s directions are,” he said, after meeting Egypt’s President Adli Mansour.

“I already clearly stated, we will not accept a vacuum in the presidential post,” Hariri added.

He also said that the election, which is scheduled to begin on May 25, should be held on time, adding: “We will do whatever we can as officials to achieve that.”

Asked whether he would return to Lebanon after the election, Hariri said his return is tied to security concerns.

Hariri also commented on the recent bombings in the Beirut suburb of Bir Hasan, saying Hezbollah should revise its strategy in Syria.

“What happened yesterday in Bir Hasan is a terrorist act that we strongly condemned as it is a terrorist, cowardice, and criminal act,” he said.

“Hezbollah's presence in Syria is unacceptable because it involves Lebanon in a [foreign] axis we do not need," Hariri said. "Therefore, Hezbollah's leadership should look at his matter from a viewpoint of Lebanon's interest first and only,” the head of the Future Movement said.

Double suicide bombings targeted the Iranian Cultural Center in a Beirut neighborhood Wednesday, killing 10 people and wounding over 100 others.

Hariri, who arrived to Cairo Wednesday held a series of meetings with several Egyptian officials, including Foreign Affairs Minister Nabil Fahmy and Egypt’s army chief and Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as well as Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby.

The meetings focused on regional developments, as well as the situation in Egypt and Lebanon.

Hariri also contacted the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, who is currently in Kuwait, and they agreed to hold a meeting at a later date.

 
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Summary

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday reiterated his opposition to a vacuum in the presidential post, saying he will meet with Maronite Cardinal Beshara Rai in Rome to discuss the Spring election.

Hariri, who is currently in Cairo, also said Hezbollah should look at Syria's conflict from the viewpoint of Lebanon, condemning Wednesday's twin suicide bombings.

He also said that the election, which is scheduled to begin on May 25, should be held on time, adding: "We will do whatever we can as officials to achieve that".

Asked whether he would return to Lebanon after the election, Hariri said his return is tied to security concerns.


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