11/17/2007, 00.00
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Presidential “War list” begins

Maronite Patriarch Sfeir yesterday presented his list of candidates for the Presidential elections. Local press speculates on names, which could single out between 6 and 12 candidates. The UN invites “all Lebanese leaders to take on their responsibility”.

Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The “War list” of possible candidates for the upcoming Lebanese presidential election has begun.  This is how the online paper Naharnet, today described the latest “speculation” on possible names.  Andre Parant, France's Charge D'Affaires, told reporters after meeting yesterday with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir that the prelate had authorized him to confirm that Speaker Nabih Berri and parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri had each been given a list of names to hash over. “It is now up to Berri and Hariri (Parliament Speaker and parliamentary majority leader) to meet in order to try and reach consensus based on this list," Parant said.

A Lebanese official, however, said that the list handed over by Sfeir included three declared candidates -- Nassib Lahoud and Boutros Harb, both of whom are backed by the ruling majority, and Gen. Michel Aoun from the opposition. The same official said three other names were added to the list -- Robert Ghanem, a lawyer and Member of Parliament, Joseph Tarabay, who heads the board of the Union of Arab Banks and the Association of Lebanese Banks and Damianos Qattar, who served as finance minister in the interim government of former Prime Minister Najib Mikati in 2005.

Quoting “European diplomatic sources”, daily As Safir said the list includes between six and seven names. It said that while Aoun, Harb and Nassib Lahoud are confirmed candidates, three others have not been verified. They are, in addition to Ghanem, former cabinet minister Michel Edde and Michel Khoury.  The paper said the name of the seventh nominee was still under circulation, while other regional papers claimed Sfeir’s list included 12 names divided into four categories.

Meanwhile yesterday in Beirut UN secretary general Ban ki-Moon, met with leaders of the anti-Syrian majority, members of the opposition led by Hezbollah, as well as the Maronite Patriarch.  He invited “all Lebanese leaders to take on their responsibility, leaving aside personal and confessional interests”.

After two delays elections for the Head of State are set for November 21st next.  The president, according to the Constitution, must be Maronite Christian and is elected by parliament rather than by popular vote.



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