Beirut- Head of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) MP Walid Jumblatt did not attend a ceremony on Sunday to inaugurate “Our Lady of the Hill” Church in Mount Lebanon’s Deir al-Qamar during the anniversary of the “Mountain Reconciliation” that saw a historic promise of coexistence between Christians and Druze in the area 16 years ago.
Jumblatt, however, saluted Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rahi, who performed Sunday’s Mass service in the presence of President Michel Aoun and Jumblatt’s son and political heir, Timur.
Several question marks emerged on Sunday concerning the absence of the Druze leader and whether such a move hid political messages, particularly following differences in positions between him and Aoun.
However, sources close to Jumblatt denied the presence of “political justifications” behind his absence in the mass services.
“Jumblatt attended a meeting with the Patriarch at the church,” sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, quoting Jumblatt as telling the Patriarch: “We could not possibly not greet you when you visit the Mountain.”
According to the sources, the Druze MP also confirmed to Patriarch Rai his determination to protect the “Mountain Reconciliation.”
They said Jumblatt also apologized for not attending a lunch following the mass due to health, not political reasons.
In a tweet posted on his account on Sunday, Jumblatt wrote: “We welcome President Michel Aoun in the Chouf and in Deir el-Qamar at the anniversary of Our Lady of the Hill.”
Aoun’s visit to the Mountain also came amid a rapprochement seen between the Lebanese Forces and the PSP, signaling an upcoming alliance in next year’s parliamentary elections.
During the mass services, Patriarch Rahi urged politicians to liberate the State’s institutions from political interference in order to ensure a better life for Lebanese citizens.
“I call for the establishment of the State with its institutions and departments based on efficiency and ethics, away from any political interference and discrimination,” Rahi said.