BEIRUT: Decades after the conclusion of Lebanon's bloody civil war, a reconciliation finally took place Wednsday between Christian rivals Samir Geagea and Sleiman Frangieh under the aegis of Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai.
Both men shook hands upon arriving at Bkirki, home of the Maronite Church, in a historic meeting seeking to put to rest any residues of animosity between the opposing Christian parties.
"Lebanon is a need of a national unity, which cannot be achieved unless our Maronite components are reconciled," Rai said.
Flanked by both men, the head of the Maronite Church reiterated the need to put to bed any lingering bad blood between both parties, labeling this reconciliation as being "blessed by God."
Geagea, the leader of the Lebanese Forces, and Frangieh, head of the Marada Movement, have sat on the opposing ends of the political aisle ever since the Lebanese civil war ended in 1990.
The LF has strongly opposed any sort of Syrian influence within Lebanon, while the Marada Movement has shown an affinity toward Damascus.
In 1978, at the height of the conflict, the Kataeb Party, from which the LF would later spawn from, dispatched a unit of operatives to Zgharta's Ehden on a raid which morphed into a bloody massacre.
Sleiman Frangieh's father, Tony, his wife and three-year-old daughter, along with 30 supporters, were killed in an attempt by then Kataeb leader Bashir Gemayel to unite the Maronite community under his leadership and gain control over Lebanon.
Sleiman Frangieh, who was a mere child at the time, narrowly escaped death as he was absent from the family home.
The Frangieh family has long blamed Geagea for the killings, accusing him of heading the unit that raided the family's mansion in Ehden.
Geagea, however, claims that he was injured before the killings took place, arguing that the massacre was carried out before his arrival.
The reconciliation also comes in the wake of the deteriorating relationship between the FPM, on one hand, and both the LF and Marada Movement on the other.
The LF had backed then-presidential candidate Michel Aoun in January 2016, after Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri had nominated Frangieh to the post. The LF's support for Aoun played a major role in quashing Frangieh's hopes of being elected President.
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