Rival Lebanese Christian leaders bury decades of hostility
Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces group, and Sleiman Frangieh of the Marada Party shook hands at the headquarters of the Maronite Christian church Wednesday.
The reconciliation was sponsored by Cardinal Bechara al-Rai, head of the Maronite church, Lebanon's largest.
"Lebanon is a need of a national unity, which cannot be achieved unless our Maronite components are reconciled," Rai said, according to An-Nahar newspaper.
Geagea and Frangieh met in the past, but Wednesday marked the end of a rivalry tainted with blood.
In 1978, members of the main Christian militia killed Frangieh's father, Tony, as well as his mother and sister and 30 Marada fighters and supporters.
Frangieh, who was a child at the time of the massacre in Ehden, was not home.
Geagea led the raid in the mountain resort town but was seriously wounded and withdrew from the operation.
The Frangieh family has for decades blamed Geagea for the murders, but he claims he was injured before the killings and they were carried out before his arrival.
Geagea and Frangieh have stood on opposite ends of the political aisle since 1990.
The LF is part of the pro-Western March 14 coalition and is strongly opposed to Syrian influence within Lebanon. The Marada Movement is part of the pro-Syria, pro-Hizballah March 8 coalition.
Wednesday's reconciliation between Geagea and Frangieh also comes amid worsening relations between the LF and Marada Movement on one hand and the Free Patriotic Movement on the other.
The FPM is Lebanon's largest Christian party and was founded by the country's current president Michel Aoun.
The LF previously backed Michel Aoun's bid for the presidency in 2016 after Prime Minister Saad Hariri said he would support Frangieh for the post. LF support for Aoun dashed Frangieh's chances of becoming president.
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