Report: Several Options under Discussion to Resolve Baabda Deadlock

Officials involved in the negotiations on the presidential deadlock have discussed several options, including a deal on a compromise Maronite candidate, to resolve the crisis, al-Liwaa newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The daily said that the officials could demand Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi to pressure the current candidates to withdraw their nominations.

Their withdrawal would allow Speaker Nabih Berri, Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat and al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri to strike a deal with Bkirki and the rest of the Christian parties on a consensual candidate.

Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, who was the first to announce his candidacy, has received the backing of the March 14 alliance.

But his rival Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun has said he would become a candidate only if there is agreement on him.

The MPs of his Change and Reform bloc and most of the March 8 alliance's lawmakers have boycotted several parliamentary sessions aimed at electing a president under the excuse of lack of consensus on a candidate.

The lack of quorum caused by the boycott left the country's top Christian post vacant after President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended on May 25.

Under the National Pact of 1943, the president should be a Maronite.

Another option under discussion by the officials is an agreement between Berri and Jumblat backed by Hizbullah, Aoun's ally, that any attempt to paralyze the government would lead to its resignation, al-Liwaa said.

Such a measure would pressure the Change and Reform bloc, which has representatives in the cabinet, into heading to parliament to elect a president, it added.

A third option could include a deal between Berri and Jumblat to reject any constitutional change amid a vacuum at Baabda Palace and to insist on legislation, according to al-Liwaa.

Aoun has proposed a constitutional amendment to carry out direct presidential elections, a move that was widely criticized by the March 14 camp and Jumblat's centrist party.



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