Maronite Patriarch's visit sparks political maneuvers for Presidential candidacy

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2023-06-01 | 23:58
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Maronite Patriarch's visit sparks political maneuvers for Presidential candidacy
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7min
Maronite Patriarch's visit sparks political maneuvers for Presidential candidacy

The past hours showed that the main development in the presidential file, after Maronite Patriarch Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi's visit to the Vatican and France, is reopening the channels of dialogue between all parties, in light of the "prominent Christian forces" heading to agree on the nomination of the former minister, Jihad Azour, in exchange for the nomination of the Amal and Hezbollah duo, for the former minister, Sleiman Frangieh.   

Meanwhile, there is no atmosphere to suggest that the parliament will be invited to hold an election session. 

This article was originally published in, and translated from the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.   

According to Al-Akhbar, those close to Bkerki had discussed the presidential file with officials in the Vatican, with a clear request to intervene with Paris to pave the way for a new round of dialogue to provide a consensual atmosphere for a presidential candidate, and not limit its efforts to urge the deputies to proceed in settling Frangieh's election.  

The sources said that Al-Rahi deliberately visited Rome first to see the results of the contacts between the Vatican and Paris and was informed that French President Emmanuel Macron would listen to his opinion on a new round of dialogue and explain to him the French position on the "Frangieh settlement." 

Noting that Macron dispatched to Beirut two weeks ago, the Lebanese banker Samir Assaf, who met Al-Rahi and told him to advance the date of the French invitation from the first week of June to the thirtieth of last month.  

According to insiders, Al-Rahi felt from his meeting with Macron a clear impact of the Vatican's efforts, in which "officials in it informed the French side that Paris should not ignore its historical interests in Lebanon, and take into account not to override the Christians in choosing the next president."   

It was known that Paris showed interest in the news about the agreement of the Christian forces on one candidate, and it is awaiting its final announcement, but it wants to calm the internal climates, stop the escalation, and open the door to a new round of contacts.   

However, the French did not explicitly inform Al-Rahi of their retreat from their position, although they did not object to giving way to a Lebanese national dialogue.  

This is what Al-Rahi expressed in front of a delegation from the Press Syndicate by saying that "the Vatican and France asked me to work internally with the rest of the components," referring to "constant contact with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri. We will also contact him to discuss the presidential file, and we will talk to everyone without exception, including Hezbollah, and the movement will start from today."  

According to Al-Akhbar, Al-Rahi will send envoys to the political forces, and Bkerki is also waiting for the Vatican to make parallel contacts with the external parties affecting the Lebanese file, in addition to contacts that France will undertake with Lebanese and foreign powers, especially Saudi Arabia.  

Political sources said, "Al-Rahi received advice from the Vatican not to go too far in his hostility to Hezbollah or the Shiite sect" and that officials in the Holy See stressed that "the presidential file must be discussed in agreement with all Lebanese components."  

According to the information that began to be available about the Patriarch's meeting with Macron, the latter was clear and frank after Al-Rahi presented the latest developments related to the Christian agreement on a candidate that "this matter is important, but it is not sufficient to elect a president" and that "things in the country need to agree with the political forces."   

Based on this message, with which Al-Rahi returned to Beirut, he "released his words," which were not devoid of sharp tone, in which he affirmed that "no one has the right to play with the fate of the Lebanese […] And no one has the right to destroy Lebanon. We have become a mockery because of some politicians."  

While the information was spread about the possibility that "Al-Rahi will address the Parliament Speaker in the Sunday sermon to invite him to open the parliament," his announcement of the start of a political movement took a very serious dimension.   

It is expected that the end of this week will be a test for this movement, at a time when political forces began to raise questions about whether it would affect the consultations between the opposition forces before announcing Azour's candidacy.   

There is something that insiders point out, and it may play a role in freezing these consultations or reducing their impulse, especially with the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, MP Gebran Bassil, especially since he was hoping for a change in the French position that supports the Christian position, reshuffles the cards at home, and pushes the Hezbollah-Amal duo to retract Frangieh's candidacy.   

In parallel, the complex "political workshop" continues between the opposition forces (the "Maronite trio," along with the Change MPs and the independents) to reach a final agreement on Azour and to find the appropriate way out to announce his candidacy and election, after the events of the last two days showed that his candidacy against Frangieh would transfer the presidential file to another form of confrontation and that the battle has become a settled matter.   

In this context, political circles say that "the Shiite Duo continues to support Frangieh to the end, and will not back down or think about an alternative plan," and that it is seriously looking at Azour's candidacy and studying how to deal with him, denying that "Berri refuses to call for a session, as announcing Azour's candidacy would be an "embarrassment" to him so that he will not be able to ignore the invitations to hold a session."   

The circles said that "the discussion moved seriously, by the two parties, to how to manage the battle from within the public body."    

In isolation from "the votes that the conflicting parties assert are guaranteed in favor of this or that candidate, there is a time bomb represented by the deputies who did not reveal their position or those whose decision is still ambiguous and not guaranteed, and they are the ones both parties are working to win over."
 

Lebanon News

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Lebanon

Presidential File

France

Vatican

Maronite Patriarch

Jihad Azour

Sleiman Frangieh

Election

Candidacy

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