Fletcher Says Major Powers Not Interfering in Names of Presidential Candidates

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British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher revealed on Sunday that Britain, France, the United States and Saudi Arabia are seeking to end the Presidential impasse in Lebanon without interfering in the names of the candidates.

Fletcher said in comments published in al-Mustaqbal newspaper that Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi called on the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council during Wednesday's meeting to “secure the presidential poll and to urge lawmakers to attend the parliamentary sessions in this regard.”

The diplomat said that al-Rahi informed the P5 ambassadors that he is “trying to convince MPs to elect a new head of state.”

The meeting between al-Rahi, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly and the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council was held following an invitation from the patriarch.

Fletcher stressed that his country “supports al-Rahi's endeavors to end vacuum,” expressing hope that the rival parties would reach common grounds and elect a new president “as soon as possible.”

“During our meetings with different parliamentary blocs, except for Hizbullah's bloc because there is no communication with the party, we voice our hope that they would go along with the patriarch's efforts.”

Lebanon was plunged into a presidential vacuum after Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader.

Over the past two months the parliament convened seven times to try to elect a successor to former President Michel Suleiman but failed during the last six sessions due to a lack of quorum caused by a boycott by most of the March 8 forces.

The eighth session is scheduled for July 2.

Fletcher told al-Mustaqbal that Washington, Paris and Riyadh are working with London to press the political arch-foes to resolve the presidential deadlock.

However, he remarked: “We are confident that we should remain neutral concerning the name of the new presidential candidate as we consider it a local affair.”

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