Bkerki says consultations 'better, easier, and nicer' than Berri's dialogue


Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi has told the ambassadors of the member states of the five-nation group for Lebanon, as he met them Monday in Bkerki, that the call for dialogue to elect a president surprises him.

"The Constitution is the highest law, so why are we trespassing it?" Bkerki's spokesperson Walid Ghayad said.

Ghayad added that the Parliament Speaker was elected and the Prime Minister appointed without dialogue, dubbing dialogue "a waste of time".

Crisis-hit Lebanon has been without a president since Michel Aoun's term ended in October 2022, with neither of the two main blocs -- Hezbollah and its opponents -- having the majority required to elect one.

The international community and the five-nation group have long urged Lebanese leaders to end months of political wrangling and stem the financial meltdown.

Speaker Nabih Berri called for dialogue to resolve the presidential crisis and reach a consensus but the Lebanese Forces and the FPM rejected his call.

The National Moderation parliamentary bloc later launched an initiative in February, calling for consultations in Parliament followed by open electoral sessions. Bkerki, the FPM and the LF welcomed the initiative while Hezbollah did not give a positive response.

Berri later said he masterminded the initiative and asked the bloc not to mention him and to use the word "consultations" instead of "dialogue". He said that he would head the meeting and that the Parliament's General Secretariat would call for it.

"Berri's invitation to dialogue would be a precedent," Ghayad said. "We fear that the presidential vacancy would protract every time under the excuse of dialogue and prior understanding."

"It would have been better, easier, and nicer to hold consultations as the National Moderation bloc suggested instead of Berri calling for it," he added.

The ambassadors of the member states of the five-nation group for Lebanon, which comprises the U.S., France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt, met Monday with Berri and al-Rahi. During the meeting, al-Rahi called on resorting to the constitution to elect a president because it is "the shortcut to the democratic process", Bkerki's sources said.

The quintet met on Tuesday with former President Michel Aoun and will resume its meetings with other political forces early next month.

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