Al-Rahi, Aoun Meet at Dinner Banquet in Bkirki after Long Rift

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A meeting was held recently between Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki in an attempt to end the rift among them, As Safir newspaper reported on Wednesday.

According to the daily, al-Rahi held a dinner banquet on Monday night in the presence of 25 bishops and attended by Aoun.

The daily reported that Bishop Samir Mazloum paved way for the two officials to end the rift and meet at the Patriarchate after a phone conversation held between Aoun and al-Rahi last week.

Al-Rahi clarified to Aoun his statement that he doesn’t want the FPM chief or Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea to reach the Presidential Palace.

“If your (Aoun) and Geagea’s candidacy led the country to vacuum… We should seek the election of a third figure,” al-Rahi explained to Aoun.

In April, 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 capable of bringing the bickering parties closer.

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

The newspaper said that the FPM chief stressed to gatherers at al-Rahi’s banquet that the Christians, specifically the Maronites, have the right to be represented by a strong and consensual president.

Sources close to the LF denied in comments to As Safir that Geagea rejected to attend the dinner banquet despite al-Rahi’s invitation, pointing out that “the circumstances that prevented him from attending the last Maronite meeting are ongoing.”

“No agreement was held on such a meeting,” the sources said.

Lebanon has been plunged into a leadership vacuum after Michel Suleiman’s presidential term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader.

Over the past two months the parliament convened five times to try to elect a successor to Suleiman but failed during the last five sessions due to a lack of quorum.

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