Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, left, receives Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in Bkirki, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Maronite Patriarchate Bkerke, HO)
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Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea offered Thursday to quit the presidential race in favor of a new March 14 candidate, in an apparent attempt to break the political deadlock that threatens to cast Lebanon into a power vacuum.Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, increasingly concerned about a vacuum in the presidency, will try to bring together the four rival Maronite leaders in an attempt to agree on a single candidate, political sources said. Rai, who had earlier Thursday met with Geagea in Bkirki, north of Beirut, later discussed the presidential election with President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace. Rai had unsuccessfully attempted to reconcile the four Maronite leaders – Geagea, MP Michel Aoun, Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel and Marada Movement chief Sleiman Frangieh.Gemayel said he agreed with Frangieh on the need to exert efforts to reach a consensus on the election "so that we can rescue the country".For his part, Frangieh said that Gemayel was "overly optimistic," adding that it would be hard to hold the presidential election on time given the deep political divisions between the rival political alliances. Earlier, political sources told The Daily Star that Gemayel has been rallying Christian support for his presidency bid to replace Geagea as March 14's favored candidate.
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