President Michel Sleiman, right, receives Patriarch Beshara Rai in Baabda, Thursday, May 8, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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If Lebanon's two leading political blocs fail to agree on a new president, a looming vacancy in the presidency could reopen the door to extending President Michel Sleiman's term.The only other option at present, despite denials from the Maronite patriarchate and Sleiman, is the suggestion put forward by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai to Speaker Nabih Berri before he left for Rome: amending the Constitution to allow President Michel Sleiman to remain in office until a new president can be elected.Sources in the presidential palace are also quietly supporting Rai's efforts to sound the alarm about a presidential vacuum and the threat it would pose to Christians without taking any practical steps to bridge the division between the Christian political blocs, leaving Sleiman as the only third option.There are also a number of Christian MPs in March 14 who have come out against the government assuming the presidency's powers and preferring Sleiman remain in his post.
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