So yet, no date has been set for formal parliamentary consultations to signal the start of the assignment process, and Baabda sources are skeptical that it will happen next week. On the other hand, the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rahi, has called for presidential elections to be held at the start of the constitutional deadline, two months before the President of the Republic’s term expires. The seat is available before President Aoun’s tenure expires on October 31.
Why is the Maronite Church’s leader in such a rush to pick the first Maronite political site? According to sources close to Bkerke, Rahi is concerned about a repeat of the disturbance that happened in the presidential elections following the conclusion of President Michel Sleiman’s tenure. He believes that conducting elections two months earlier can avoid a presidential vacuum, allowing obstructionist intentions to emerge early and be handled before it is too late. According to sources close to Bkerke, the status of Patriarch Rahi will change in the coming weeks, without revealing the nature of the change.
Is there a similar precedent in the modern history of Lebanon? Yes, a new president was elected before the end of the ruling president’s term of office, but not within the constitutional deadline, as the patriarch now demands. At the end of the era of former President Suleiman Franjieh, many demanded his resignation, and a third of the representatives signed a petition that imposed on the then Speaker of Parliament, Kamel al-Assaad, to call for a session to amend the constitution and hold presidential elections before their constitutional date.
President Elias Sarkis was elected six months before the deadline, although he did not take office until after President Franjieh’s tenure expired. Sarkis had previously been informed of a series of meetings between the predecessor and the successor in order to prepare for the transfer.