10/31/2007, 00.00
LEBANON
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Maronite committee ends meetings without agreement on presidential candidates’ names

The committee issues a report indicating general principles and tasks new head of state must fulfill. Patriarch Sfeir is asked to convene a new meeting for all Christian lawmakers. Hariri and Aoun are scheduled to meet face to face.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The committee of Maronite politicians ended their meetings without any agreement on possible candidates to the presidency, a key issue for the future of the country, at least on the medium term. The four parties represented (two from the majority and two from the opposition) gave Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir a report only outlying the points to which they were in agreement. In it they make a basic statement about general principles, describe the profile the future head of state has to possess and lay down a few tasks he must be called to fulfill.

The report reiterates several principles: the new president must be elected by a two third majority (an opposition demand); every Christian lawmaker, especially Maronite, must be present at the election (a majority demand); everyone must pledge never to use violence; the new president must negotiate correct and balanced relations with Syria whilst upholding the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; a new electoral law must be introduced; and the thorny issue of armed Palestinian and Hizbollah militias must be dealt with.

What was not agreed upon was a list of names. Instead everyone is waiting for a scheduled meeting to take place today in Paris between majority leader Saad Hariri and opposition candidate Michel Aoun.

The tête-à-tête comes a day after Hariri claimed that Syria was plotting to kill him and current Lebanese Prime Minister, Fuad Siniora.

Many people are however hoping for action on the part of the Maronite patriarch. Both the majority and the opposition want Nasrallah Sfeir to convene what is expected to be a difficult meeting between Christian lawmakers, something that is also in the four-party committee report.

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