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patriarch-rai-def-4Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai urged on Sunday the Lebanese political factions to immediately start working on the formation of a government following Monday’s presidential vote to elect a new president.

“We urge [the political parties]…not to put obstacles in the face of the [government] formation. The current challenges are big and diverse, and they include building internal unity,” Rai said during a Sunday mass in Bkirki.

Rai said that he expected a new president to be elected Monday, ending what he described as the “deadly presidential vacuum” which has lasted for two and half years .

“We look forward to the president-elect and the prime minister-designate cooperating with trusted and competent people…who avoid conflicts and sectarian disputes,” he said.

The founder of the Free Patriotic Movement, Michel Aoun, is expected to be voted president after having secured the support of the key Lebanese factions. Former Lebanese PM and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri who was the key factor in paving the way for Aoun’s election will reportedly be renamed as the new PM after consultations with the parliamentary blocs .

Speaker Nabih Berri, a key ally of Hezbollah predicted on Thursday that it could take as long as 6 months to form a new government after the election of a president. Berri vowed not to vote for Aoun and will be instead voting for Marada chief MP Suleiman Franjieh . Franjieh urged his supporters on Saturday to vote with blank ballots

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