Al-Rahi Meets Aoun, Says Relieved over Nomination
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi expressed “relief” Monday that the country's lengthy presidential vacuum might see an end during the October 31 voting session.
Al-Rahi voiced his stance in a joint statement that was issued after talks in Bkirki with Free Patriotic Movement founder and leading presidential candidate MP Michel Aoun.
Aoun was tipped to become president after al-Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri formally endorsed him on Thursday.
“General Aoun briefed Patriarch al-Rahi on the latest developments in the presidential file ahead of the Oct. 31 electoral session,” the statement said.
“Patriarch al-Rahi expressed his relief over the realization of what he had long called for, which is that the political and parliamentary blocs declare their stances on nominations,” it added.
“This guarantees that the scheduled electoral session will be held and a president whom people have waited for so long will be elected,” the statement said.
Lebanon has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended in May 2014 and Hizbullah, Aoun's Change and Reform bloc and some of their allies have been boycotting the parliament's electoral sessions, stripping them of the needed quorum.
Hariri had launched an initiative in late 2015 to nominate Hizbullah's ally and Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh for the presidency but his proposal was met with reservations from the country's main Christian parties as well as Hizbullah.
The supporters of Aoun's presidential bid have argued that he is more eligible than Franjieh to become president due to the size of his parliamentary bloc and his bigger influence in the Christian community.