ASIA/LEBANON - Neither Geagea, nor Aoun. For Patriarch Rai the new President must be a "figure of consensus"

Friday, 11 April 2014

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - The Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Bechara Boutros Rai, forsees that the next President of Lebanon will not be Michel Aoun or Samir Geagea, the two most well-known Christian leaders linked to the two blocks - the "March 8 Coalition " and the" March 14 Coalition" - which for years have been in contrast with each other, with crippling effects on the functioning of national institutions. Interviewed by the Lebanese newspaper al-Joumhouria on the possibility that one of the two historic antagonists could become President of the Lebanese Republic, Cardinal Rai responded that in his opinion the next Head of State should be "a figure of consensus supported by the people, so that he can lead the warring parties together instead of creating a new crisis".
In his statements to the Lebanese press, Patriarch Rai stressed that the Maronite Church does not endorse any single candidate, but also outlined the ideal profile of the future President of Lebanon, who must have "solid moral references, integrity, experience, faith in the Lebanese State and in regional and international relations, in order to revitalize the role of institutions and govern the Country in difficult times".
The complex Lebanese institutional balance provides that the office of President of the Republic is to be occupied by a Maronite Christian. The Patriarch’s words, even if do not express positive explicit support for any particular candidate, could have the effect of excluding Geagea of the Lebanese Forces (allied with the Sunni of the "Future" Party of Saad Hariri in the March 14 Coalition) and the current leader of Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, allied with the Shiite of Hezbollah within the March 8th Coalition. The six-year term of the incumbent President, Michel Sleiman, ends on 25 May. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 11/04/2014)