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File photo of the top 4 Maronite  leaders with Patriarch Rai ( C) at Bkirki and they are:    Marada Movement chief Suleiman Franjieh (R) Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun , former Phalange Party chief Amin Gemayel and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.
File photo of the top 4 Maronite leaders with Patriarch Rai ( C) at Bkirki and they are: Marada Movement chief Suleiman Franjieh (R) Change and Reform bloc chief MP Michel Aoun , former Phalange Party chief Amin Gemayel and Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea.

Maronite Christian Patriarch Beshara al-Rai revealed Monday that he has invited the country’s top four Maronite leaders to a meeting in Bkirki and that he is still awaiting their response

He made the revelation  to LBCI television during a pastoral visit to the coastal Syrian city of Tartus.

He was referring to  the four Maronite leaders, Marada Movement chief Suleiman Franjieh , Change and Reform bloc  chief MP Michel Aoun, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea and former Lebanese president and Phalange Party chief Amin Gemayel.

“All political blocs must take the presidential initiative seriously, especially that foreign countries are behind this initiative,” al-Rai told LBCI.

“Political and Christian forces must sit around a table to hold consultations and reach a domestic national decision on the figure that they want to nominate for the presidency,” he added.

“They must sit around one table to assess things in a serious manner and take a comprehensive and responsible stance that involves all Lebanese,” the patriarch went on to say.

Rai has been urging the political factions to come together and to “seriously” take into consideration the new initiative aiming at ending the presidential vacuum.

In Lebanon’s confessional power-sharing system the position of president is constitutionally prescribed to a Maronite Christian.

The March 14 alliance nominated Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea for the presidency , while Hezbollah nominated Aoun as the March 8 alliance  candidate .

Neither Aoun nor Geagea – both former civil war-era warlords and polarising figures – were likely to attain the required  votes in parliament to gain office.

Lebanese media reports claim that Franjieh’s nomination had the backing of regional and international powers  including Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United States and France, who have long been at odds about who should rule Lebanon.

For the 32nd time in a row, and despite renewed optimism, Lebanese politicians last week failed to elect a president.

The FPM, the LF and Phalange Party   have voiced objections or reservations over the possible nomination of Franjieh to the country’s top Christian post and some of the three parties’ officials have asked for “guarantees.”

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