Lebanon News

Future reiterates rejection of presidential vacuum

Patriarch Beshara Rai, right, receives Nader Hariri, the head of former Prime Minster Saad Hariri’s office in Bkirki, Monday, May 12, 2014. (The Daily Star/Maronite Patriarchate Bkerke, HO)

BEIRUT: A top Future official reiterated the bloc's rejection of a vacuum in the presidency Monday as Kataeb leader Amine Gemayel warned against the “drastic repercussions” of such a scenario.

Nader Hariri, the head of former Prime Minster Saad Hariri’s office, emphasized in a meeting with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai and Gemayel the need to elect a new president, a Future Movement source said.

The source denied media reports that Hariri informed Rai that Future supports the extension of President Michel Sleiman's term, which expires on May 25.

“The extension of Sleiman's mandate was not brought up in the meeting,” the source said.

Meanwhile, parliamentary sources said Bkiriki would not hold more meetings with Maronite leaders, as sources in the Free Patriotic Movement said the party does not approve extending President Michel Sleiman’s term.

“I visited Patriarch Rai in order to inform him of the outcome of the talks I held recently [with political figures], and we both have concerns over the possibility of a presidential vacuum,” Gemayel said, speaking from Bkirki.

“It is very important to intensify efforts to hold the presidential election on time because a vacuum would have drastic and dangerous repercussions for Lebanon and its institutions,” he said.

Gemayel launched a series of high-level talks last week to find a solution to the presidential crisis.

Sources said the meeting in Bkirki also addressed the possibility of the four major Christian leaders finding an alternative to Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea or FPM leader MP Michel Aoun.

According to the sources, consultations will continue up until Thursday to try and find a consensus candidate. The sources also said no name was suggested during the meeting.

Sources close to Gemayel said that he also tried to push for holding a summit dedicated to the presidential election while emphasizing that “there is no justification whatsoever for a vacuum."

Parliamentary sources, however, told The Daily Star that Rai is not likely to call for any new Bkirki Christian summit dedicated to the election or any other issue.

The FPM sources said the group opposes extending the term of Sleiman amid reports that Rai favors that option over a presidential vacuum.

Rai has warned that a vacuum would run contrary to the 1943 National Pact and eliminate the role of Christians in the country’s power-sharing system.

The FPM sources insisted it is still possible to hold the presidential election on time.

Parliament is scheduled to meet again in a fourth attempt in less than a month to elect a president amid growing signs that Thursday’s session is also destined to fail in the absence of a local and regional accord on a candidate acceptable to the March 8 and March 14 parties.





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