Quorum, consensus, and consultations: Bkerke's strategy for Lebanon's presidential challenge

Press Highlights
2023-12-18 | 01:30
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Quorum, consensus, and consultations: Bkerke's strategy for Lebanon's presidential challenge
Quorum, consensus, and consultations: Bkerke's strategy for Lebanon's presidential challenge

The management of Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi distinguished itself with firmness in the extension battle for Army Commander General Joseph Aoun. 

This article was originally published in and translated from the Lebanese newspaper Nidaa Al-Watan.

The patriarch's pressure was accompanied by the Lebanese Forces' activity and the opposition's response. 

These factors contributed to creating a Christian and national atmosphere in the face of attempts by the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), MP Gebran Bassil, to oust the army commander. 

After the extension battle, attention will shift to the presidential "pressure" that the next phase will bring. 

The advanced position of the Quintet Committee, composed of the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and France, sent a harsh message to those obstructing the extension of the army commander. 

This position helped the patriarch and the Lebanese Forces secure a supportive environment for the extension and all pressure elements. 

It is a mistake to consider the army leadership battle separate from the presidential battle or the entire political system. The sure thing is the international focus on Lebanon.

Patriarch al-Rahi received an unofficial "mandate" and support from the Quintet Committee, as French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian conveyed when he met the patriarch. 

This emphasized his country's support for him in the battle to extend the term of the army commander and the presidency. 

Following this, the Saudi ambassador, Walid al-Bukhari, visited Bkerke on the eve of the extension, informing him of his country's support for all his steps.

Therefore, the battle for the army leadership has ended, and the patriarch is reassured about the institution's smooth operation. No one can "shake" it internally or externally. 

Attention has shifted to the presidency, where the vision in Bkerke seems clear. 

"March 8 Alliance" circles acknowledge that Aoun's extension kept his name among the presidential candidates, surpassing the head of the Marada Movement, Sleiman Frangieh, by a wide margin.

Bkerke does not want to enter the "game" of presidential candidate names. Still, it knows that the extension has kept Joseph Aoun's name in the "arena" and increased its confidence in the presence of a person capable of securing internal consensus and obtaining the most significant external support.

Bkerke relies on the nature of the voting witnessed during the extension, including the votes of the Lebanese Forces and Christian allies, the Sunni majority from all directions, the Druze through the Democratic Gathering, and the Shiite through the bloc of Speaker Nabih Berri.

The Church does not deny that the name of the army commander is among the first presidential candidates, but whether he is elected or not falls on the shoulders of the parliament. 

This does not mean Bkerke has a "veto" on any name. 

If the parliament convenes and elects Frangieh, former minister Jihad Azour, or any other candidate, it will congratulate the winner, whoever it may be.

Bkerke is trying to formulate an action plan to pressure the presidency and work to benefit from some internal "awareness" and external attention. 

In this context, the patriarch's plan will focus on several matters, including pressuring to hold a session to elect the president and subsequent consecutive sessions. 

According to Nidaa Al-Watan, Speaker Berri will be contacted in this regard after he met Bkerke's demands for an extension.

If there is no response, the patriarch will escalate the situation and pressure to set a near date for the session, communicating with Christian blocs primarily to secure the quorum and prevent some from boycotting. 

The patriarch wants to dispel the notion that the presidential crisis is exclusively Maronite. He will expand his consultations to include all factions. 

The patriarch relies on a Christian ground composed of the Lebanese Forces, allies, and the Free Patriotic Movement, which promises not to obstruct the quorum.

The patriarch maintains contact with the Quintet Committee, especially with Washington. 

He knows that the international community does not prioritize Lebanon, but there is notable interest after the army commander issue. 

The patriarch will try to use this in the presidency, and Bkerke will witness a series of visits during the holidays that he will exploit to complete the presidential pressure.

Lebanon News

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Maronite Patriarch



Army Commander

Lebanese Forces

Free Patriotic Movement

Quintet Committee

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