The following are a selection of stories from Lebanese newspapers that may be of interest to The Daily Star readers. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
The farewell day, the dawn of vacuum
President Michel Sleiman will leave this afternoon, less than 12 hours before the end of his mandate that started on May 25, 2008, Baabda’s Presidential Palace to become, starting tomorrow, a former president.
The March 14 lawmakers decided to come to Parliament Saturday to express their determination to carry out the presidential election within the constitutional deadline.
Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel suggested that the coalition's lawmakers stay in Parliament from 6 p.m. until midnight. His proposal was approved by the Lebanese Forces and Future lawmakers. Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora also contacted Speaker Nabih Berri asking that the latter’s bloc joins the gathering.
The March 14 coalition is also trying to convince Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt to participate in the afternoon’s parliamentarian gathering.
A March 14 parliamentary source said that “this symbolic move aims to express our sadness over the failure to elect a new president.”
Sleiman from vacuum ... to vacuum!
With the “golden end” of President Michel Sleiman’s term, the country starts a new unpredictable phase whose next president remains unknown.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai is set to launch a call for Christians, mainly Maronites, to save the presidency and get out of the state of “voluntary suicide” that can topple the role of Christians for good.
United States diplomats would also base their calls for electing a new president after May 25 on the need to preserve stability in Lebanon. They are set to advise the Lebanese officials not to sacrifice their country for the sake of the regional crisis.
Meanwhile, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun is keen on keeping the channels of communication open with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Sources close to Aoun quoted him as saying “let us give this contact its full chance because it may lead to a good solution.”
Religious naturalization [with Israel]
‘Naivety rhetoric’ defends Rai’s visit
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party issued a statement rejecting the visit of Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai to Israel.
They said that the visit holds “dangerous indicators about the legal status of the occupied Jerusalem directly and about the status of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon indirectly.”
The statement said that Lebanon’s non-recognition of Israel and its boycott to the repercussions of the occupations “are linked to the file of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and the rejection of their settlement in the country.” They added that any breach to such legal behavior endangers the Palestinian’s right of return.
They added that the church would be better to show more concern over the Palestinians in Lebanon, especially regarding their civil and social rights.
First day of vacuum tomorrow and a governmental achievement in refugees file
Future Movement sources denied that Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s chief of staff, Nader Hariri, held a meeting recently with Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun and suggested extending the term of outgoing President Michel Sleiman for a year.
The sources said Hariri did not hold a meeting with Aoun Thursday evening and that he attended a meeting for the March 14 alliance leaders at the Center House to discuss the presidential deadlock.
Meanwhile, Cabinet formed a ministerial committee to follow up on the Syrian refugee crisis and confront the influx of refugees. The government is set to organize the Syrian displacement to Lebanon according to national standards and will seek to secure their return to their country and to form refugee camps along the border inside Syria.