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Rai again urges presidential election, criticizes Berri dialogue

Rai again urges presidential election, criticizes Berri dialogue

Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai (center) at a press conference in Sydney, Australia, Sept. 19, 2023. (Credit: NNA)

BEIRUT — "Dialogue is the vote in Parliament," Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai said Tuesday, in an apparent rebuff against Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's recent campaign to hold political dialogue ahead of a planned 13th attempt at electing a new Lebanese president in October. 

"I have always said, even before Berri's invitation, that dialogue means voting in Parliament. Dialogue is an election, and the election is consensus," Rai said at a press conference in Sydney, Australia, where he is visiting the Lebanese and Maronite communities. 

Lebanon has been without a president for nearly a year, since Michel Aoun finished his term in Oct. 2022.

At the end of August, Berri pledged to hold an open electoral session in Parliament, provided they were preceded by an extended week-long dialogue bringing together the heads of parliamentary blocs.

Read more:

Lebanon’s presidential chessboard: Nabih Berri’s dialogue and external diplomacy

"There is no justification for the failure to elect a president since September 2022," the date on which the first electoral session was held, Rai added.

Parliament has held 12 sessions to attempt to elect a new president, all of which failed and lost quorum. At the 12th session, in June, Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh received 51 votes to Jihad Azour's 59. These scores were insufficient to win.

Several local media and Lebanese politicians have mentioned the possible candidacy of General Joseph Aoun, commander-in-chief of the army, who however asserted on Monday that the presidency "does not concern" him.


BEIRUT — "Dialogue is the vote in Parliament," Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai said Tuesday, in an apparent rebuff against Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's recent campaign to hold political dialogue ahead of a planned 13th attempt at electing a new Lebanese president in October. "I have always said, even before Berri's invitation, that dialogue means voting in Parliament. Dialogue is an...