Patriarch Beshara Rai speaks during a mass held in Roumieh. The Daily Star
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Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai Sunday reiterated his opposition to Speaker Nabih Berri's package-deal proposal as the presidential drive appeared to be facing difficulties ahead of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri's upcoming consultations with regional powers. Rai also called on various parliamentary blocs to make their choices between the two main rival candidates: MP Michel Aoun and Marada Movement leader MP Sleiman Frangieh, in the patriarch's latest attempt to help break the political stalemate that has left the country without a president for more than two years. Asked if he expected a president to be elected at the Parliament session set for Oct. 31, Houri said: "The answer lies with Iran and Hezbollah".For his part, Berri, who strongly opposes Aoun's presidential bid and supports Frangieh's candidacy, said he is not interfering in the presidential election in favor of any candidate. MP Simon Abi Ramia from the Free Patriotic Movement sounded optimistic that Aoun, the FPM founder, would eventually be elected as Lebanon's next president.
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