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Lebanon News

Rai, Maronite leaders want election on time

  • Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, left, looks on as President Michel Sleiman presents a golden plated reliquary to accommodate Saint Rafka's remains in Jrabta Monastery, Sunday, March 23, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai agreed with three rival Maronite political leaders Friday on the need to hold the presidential election on time.

Rai chaired a meeting at the patriarchate in Bkirki late Friday that brought together Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, former President Amine Gemayel, head of the Kataeb Party, and Zghorta MP Suleiman Franjieh, head of the Marada Movement.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who had joined the three leaders in previous meetings in Bkirki, did not attend for security reasons. The four leaders are potential candidates to the country’s top Christian post.

“The atmosphere at the meeting was positive. The participants stressed the need for the presidential election to be held on time,” Walid Ghayyad, a spokesman for Rai, told The Daily Star.

He refused to give more details, saying a statement about the results of the discussions would be issued by the Maronite Church Saturday.

Ghayyad said Geagea was briefed by telephone on the talks.

The meeting comes amid a flurry of political activity focusing on the presidential election.

Speaker Nabih Berri is expected to urge lawmakers from both sides of the political divide to name their candidates to the presidency.

A committee of lawmakers from Berri’s bloc have so far held consultations with Geagea, Aoun and Gemayel and other politicians over the presidential election. Committee members said they would meet Rai Monday to discuss the matter.

Separately, a senior delegation from the Vatican arrived in Beirut Thursday night. Although the visit aims to look into the Maronite Church’s affairs, sources well acquainted with the issue said the delegation would also discuss the presidential election.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 29, 2014, on page 1.
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Summary

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai agreed with three rival Maronite political leaders Friday on the need to hold the presidential election on time.

Rai chaired a meeting at the patriarchate in Bkirki late Friday that brought together Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, former President Amine Gemayel, head of the Kataeb Party, and Zghorta MP Suleiman Franjieh, head of the Marada Movement.

A committee of lawmakers from Berri's bloc have so far held consultations with Geagea, Aoun and Gemayel and other politicians over the presidential election.


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