File - Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai heads a Muslim-Christian summit in Bkirki, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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The influential Maronite Church Wednesday threw its weight behind Patriarch Beshara Rai in his fracas with Speaker Nabih Berri over the latter's proposed package deal to end the presidential vacuum, calling for the election of a president without any preset conditions.The statement was read to reporters by Maronite Bishop Samir Mazloum.In a swift reaction apparently aimed at defusing tension with the Maronite patriarch, Berri was reported to have expressed support for the bishops' statement.In their statement, the Maronite bishops, citing Article 49 in the Constitution, said that the head of the state, who is a symbol of the nation's unity, "oversees the respect of the Constitution and preservation of Lebanon's independence, unity and territorial integrity". In order for the president to carry out his supreme national mission, he should be free of any restrictions, the statement said.MP Ibrahim Kanaan from MP Michel Aoun's parliamentary Change and Reform bloc urged the rival factions to give Hariri's "positive initiative" a chance to end the presidential vacuum.
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