Al-Rahi Rules Out Election of March 8 or 14 Official, Says President Should be Consensual

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Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi has ruled out the election of a president from either the March 8 or 14 alliance, saying the head of state should be consensual and avoid a political crisis in the country.

In remarks carried by local newspapers on Thursday, al-Rahi said: “I don’t think a president from either March 8 or 14 would be elected because he should be consensual and accepted by the people so that he could bring the bickering parties closer.”

The new head of state should be someone “who does not stir a new crisis,” al-Rahi, who is on a five-day visit to Geneva, said.

The patriarch reiterated that the seat of the Maronite church in Bkirki does not support any candidate.

“We don’t back a specific person,” he said. “But a presidential candidate should have certain general characteristics.”

“He should believe in the Lebanese state and have good regional, Arab and international ties,” al-Rahi said.

The patriarch said that the president should also be capable of giving back the state institutions their role and managing the country’s affairs at this sensitive stage.

Only Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea has officially announced his candidacy for the presidential elections, which should be held by May 25, when President Michel Suleiman’s six-year tenure expires.

The patriarch reiterated his call on Speaker Nabih Berri to call for a parliamentary session to elect a new president, “or else there will be no elections.”

Al-Rahi also said that during his talks in Geneva, he called for a quick and strong solution to the crisis of Syrian refugees in Lebanon by building camps to house them in border areas.

The current situation “is unacceptable and is harming the Lebanese who welcomed the Syrians,” he stated.

The United Nations has registered 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted in March 2011.

The Syrian civil war that has killed more than 150,000 people and driven nine million from their homes, including the 2.6 million refugees who have fled abroad, including Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

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