Lebanon News

Presidential poll unconstitutional, requires agreement: Maronite patriarch

File- Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, center, receives LF leader Samir Geagea, left, and FPM leader Michel Aoun in Bkirki. (The Daily Star/Maronite Patriarchate Bkirki, HO)

BEIRUT: A presidential poll among Christians to reveal which candidate had the most support for the presidency is "unconstitutional and needs the approval of all Maronite lawmakers," Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said.

"I personally don't mind conducting such a poll if all [Maronite MPs] agree on it," Rai said in remarks published in Al-Mustaqbal newspaper Saturday.

Rai revealed that he proposed a call for a meeting between Maronite lawmakers in Bkirki to discuss the poll if there was a preliminary agreement on it.

His suggestion was made during his last meeting with Lebanese Forces media officer Melhem Riachi and Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Ibrahim Kanaan, the patriarch said.

"But I still haven't received an answer," he added.

The remarks drew a rebuke from Kanaan, who rejected Rai's description of the poll as unconstitutional.

"Rai had revealed a year ago that he carried out such a poll," Kanaan told LBCI Saturday. "He encourages it."

The MP kicked off last week a tour of Christian leaders to garner support for the presidential poll.

FPM chief MP Michel Aoun, the March 8 presidential candidate, had previously proposed to solve the presidential crisis by a popular referendum.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who is Aoun's March 14 rival, earlier this week offered his backing to the poll.





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