08/01/2007, 00.00
LEBANON
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Bishops see attempts to avoid confrontation in Metn by-election failing

Last minute attempts continue as an accord over who should represent the Christian area after Sunday’s vote remains elusive. Prelates’ press release calls on all parties to respect the country’s democratic tradition, urges young people to stay in the country, which shall rise again.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – In their press release following their monthly meeting (first Wednesday of the month) chaired by patriarch Sfeir in Dimane, Lebanon’s Maronite bishops expressed deep concern over the patriarch’s failed attempt to find some consensus that might prevent intra-Christian confrontation in this Sunday’s by-election in Metn.

The patriarch tried everything to get the poll to choose the successors of Pierre Gemayel, assassinated last November 21, and Walid Eido, killed on June 13 in Beirut, cancelled.

The bishops’ press release appeals to all parties, urging them to respect the country’s democratic traditions, asking voters to pick the right candidates to replace the murdered lawmakers. It does not hide their disappointment over the latest statements made those involved which seem to have snuffed out any hope for a deal, especially in the Christian area of Metn. Yet the bishops’ statement continues to hold out for some agreement that might uphold Lebanon’s democratic traditions.

The bishops in addition expressed alarm over the growing number of young people leaving the country. In hopeful terms they appealed to Lebanese youth to stay despite the situation. Invoking Our Lady, Mother of Lebanon, to help this country much beloved by God, they said that the country will rise again and overcome its difficulties.

In the meantime Lebanon’s Judicial Council has turned down a request filed by Michel Aoun’s candidate, Kamil Khoury, to overturn the government’s decree to hold by-elections because the decision is beyond its purview.

The latest events highlight how much Lebanon has been living on the edge and this for quite some time. This is especially true in its Christian areas during the last week.

Beirut’s Maronite bishop, Mgr Paul Matar, told AsiaNews at the end of today’s meeting that only a miracle could save the country now.

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