Syriac Maronite archbishop positive about participation of Lebanese Forces in meeting of parliamentarians of Lebanese Christian parties to elect new president

MAARAB, Mount Lebanon — Syriac Maronite Archbishop of Antelias Antoine Bou Najm and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea met on Tuesday to discuss ways to break the impasse regarding the Lebanese presidential elections. The president of Lebanon is by convention a Christian Syriac Maronite. 

The meeting comes against the backdrop of an initiative by the hierarch of the Syriac Maronite Church, Mor Bechara Boutros Raï, to bring together 64 Christian MPs and come to a presidential election. Archbishop Bou Najm was commissioned by the Syriac Maronite Patriarch of the meeting. 

The two sides discussed several issues of common interest in the matter. Archbishop Bou Najm stated that positivity prevailed at the meeting. 

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, himself also a Syriac Maronite, has set conditions for his participation in the Christian parties’ dialogue;

“If the intended meeting in Beth Kerké (Bkerki) is not likely to lead to tangible results, it is better not to hold it,” he said. 

Geagea’s advisor for presidential affairs Antoine Mrad stated to L’Orient Le Jour newspaper that;

“to ensure the success of the meeting, we have proposed two solutions: to organize a kind of vote that would lead to a candidate or to reach an inter-Christian agreement around a figure.”

A failed meeting at Beth Kerké would make Christians responsible for blocking a way out of the impasse, which mainly and primarily concerns them, Mrad added. 

Archbishop Antoine Bou Najm started his series of meetings on February 15th at the headquarters of the Free Patriotic Movement, where he met with the free and patriotic leader Gebran Bassil. The latter had plans to succeed his father-in-law, but his chances are slim now especially since relations between him and his partner Hezbollah have cooled.

Hezbollah supports the Syriac Maronite leader of the Marada movement, Sleiman Frangieh, who is an ally of the Syrian Ba’ath regime. This is against the grain of the Lebanese Forces and other Christian parties that have nominated the leader of the Independence Movement and MP Michel Moawad as president.