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bkirki meeting 0602  patriarch rai 2 defMaronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai who returned on Friday from a 56-day tour of Latin America called for holding the parliamentary elections on time under any current or new electoral law, stressing that electoral laws must not be used as an excuse to delay the parliamentary elections.

“We categorically reject extension (of parliament’s term) and elections must be held under any current or new law, and laws must not be used as an excuse for delaying the elections”. Rai said at the Rafik Hariri International Airport upon arrival.

He attributed the failure to reach an agrement over an electoral law to the lack of trust among the parties.

Asked to comment about the verbal war over the electoral law between Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, al-Rai said: “Christians are united and the conflicting viewpoints do not imply that there is a rift.”

“There is no dispute among the Christian leaders and they are characterized by their free and diverse opinions,” he added.

“I do not accept claims that the ball is only in the court of Christians and a consensual electoral law is not only a Christian concern,” al-Rai noted.

“We must restore our unity as Christians and Muslims and this is our wish amid these critical circumstances,” he went on to say.

Asked to comment about about Hezbollah’s military involvement in the Syrian civil war , he stressed the importance of sparing Lebanon the impact of regional conflicts.

“The Baabda Declaration was firm in stating that Lebanon is a neutral country and no one must be allowed to implicate it in regional and international axes and we regret that it is being implicated against its will.”

Several candidiates submitted on Friday their applications to the upcoming parliamentary polls, including the FPM, the LF, the AMAL movement and the March 14 Independent MPs to avoid uncontested victories despite strong objections over the adoption of the 1960 electoral law.

Last week, Future Movement , the Lebanese Forces, MP Walid Jumblat’s National Struggle Front and March 14 alliance’s independent lawmakers proposed a hybrid draft-law, which calls for 46 percent of MPs to be elected based on proportional representation and 54 percent under the majoritarian winner-takes-all system. But the Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance rejected the proposal and the Phalange party expressed reservations about it.

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