PM Meets al-Rahi: Presidential Vacuum Will Harm the Whole of Lebanon

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Prime Minister Tammam Salam warned on Monday of the dangers of presidential vacuum in Lebanon, saying that efforts should be exerted to avoid it.

He said after holding talks with Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi at the Grand Serail: “Vacuum in the presidency will harm the Maronite sect and the whole of Lebanon.”

“We need all sides to cooperate in order to avert vacuum,” he stressed, while saying that Lebanon cannot be governed unilaterally by one party without of other political partners.

The premier said that as the government was successful filling vacancies in various administrative posts, lawmakers should be able to elect a president and avoid vacancy in the country’s top post.

“We are here to fill vacancies, not create them,” remarked Salam.

Al-Rahi echoed his statements, saying that lawmakers have a duty to elect a president.

It is not logical for Lebanon to have vacuum in the presidency, he said, while criticizing MPs for failing to reach an agreement over a candidate.

“They have had ample time to agree on a successor for President Michel Suleiman, so why haven’t they reached an agreement on one yet?” wondered the patriarch.

Lebanon has failed to elect a president after four rounds of presidential elections at parliament.

During he first round, neither of the candidates, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and Democratic Gathering MP Henri Helou, received the necessary votes of 86 lawmakers to be elected president.

The next three rounds failed to be held due to a lack of quorum after the majority of the MPs of the March 8 camp boycotted the session over the ongoing dispute with the March 14 camp on a presidential candidate.

The fifth round of the elections is scheduled for Thursday, two days before Suleiman’s term ends.

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