BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati have come to an “initial understanding” over the upcoming elections, a source close to the premier-designate said Monday.
The sources said the “initial understanding” came during a meeting between the two leaders at Bkirki Monday, without revealing the specifics of the agreement.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the talks between the two men as “positive” and said there would be a follow-up talks over the understanding between the two.
Rai insists the June elections be held on time, as lawmakers consider extending Parliament’s mandate or holding the polls under the 1960 law after they failed to agree on a new voting system.
The cardinal opposes any extension of Parliament’s mandate, an option that Speaker Nabih Berri has been trying to endorse.
Mikati’s Cabinet is set to meet later Monday to take the necessary steps to hold the elections under the controversial 1960 law. It is expected to agree on the formation of a supervisory committee for the elections and on endorsing the necessary funds for the polls.
Following the meeting at Bkirki, Mikati told reporters that he came to congratulate Rai on his safe return to Lebanon. The patriarch returned to Lebanon Friday after wrapping up a long tour in South America as well as a visit to the Vatican.
Mikati also expressed his best wishes on Rai’s planned visit to Poland which begins Tuesday.
The Voice of Lebanon radio station quoted Rai as saying that the patriarch had agreed with Mikati on “important issues.”
Mikati’s visit to the cardinal comes after Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun held separate talks with Rai over the weekend.