Rivals Meet in Bkirki to 'Adjust Christian Beat' Ahead of Presidential Elections

The representatives of rival Christians parties have met at the seat of the Maronite church in Bkirki to coordinate on several local issues, mainly the presidential polls.

The meeting that was held on Wednesday brought together Free Patriotic Movement Minister Salim Jreissati, Phalange party MP Sejaan Azzi, Lebanese Forces parliamentary bloc MP Elie Kayrouz, ex-Minister Youssef Saadeh from the Marada movement, and al-Rahi's representative Bishop Samir Mazloum and ex-Minister Roger Deeb.

The rivals discussed important political issues, in addition to Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's efforts to “adjust the Christian beat,” As Safir daily quoted one of the participants as saying.

Al-Joumhouria also quoted sources as saying that the meeting was “positive.”

The conferees agreed on several issues, they said.

They added that the discussions focused on the representation of Christians in state institutions, the electoral draft-law, the sale of lands owned by Christians in several regions and the presidential polls.

Reports have lately emerged that al-Rahi, along with other top Christian officials, have been pressuring Christian lawmakers to attend parliamentary sessions for the election of a new president next year to avoid a vacuum.

The reports also said that the Vatican has tasked the patriarch with discussing with the rival parties the new initiative that lies in convincing the 64 Christian MPs in the 128-member parliament to guarantee the necessary quorum to elect a new president.

President Michel Suleiman's term ends in May next year.

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