01/16/2008, 00.00
LEBANON

For Cardinal Sfeir Lebanon’s president must be elected in accordance with Lebanon’s constitution

The Maronite patriarch criticises a proposal made by Hizbullah and General Aoun for the direct election of the head of state, saying that he supports “a Lebanese solution in the first place, an Arab solution as a second choice and an international solution as a third option.” Ruling alliance rejects Hizbullah’s call for an “Islamic government.”

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanon’s president ought to be elected in accordance with the constitution, which is to say by parliament, Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir said. “We support a Lebanese solution in the first place,” he stressed, “an Arab solution as a second choice and an international solution as a third option.”

Speaking in the wake of the latest car bombing, which killed three people and injured a dozen more, and on the eve of the return of the Arab League chief bringing that organisation’s plan to get General Michel Suleiman elected head of state, the cardinal explicitly rejected a demand made by Hizbullah leader Nasrallah and Free Patriotic Movement's General Aoun for the direct election of the president by the people.

In receiving a delegation of Lebanese newspaper editors headed by Melhem Karam, chairman of the Lebanese Editors Syndicate, Cardinal Sfeir said that an “international solution could be bad for Lebanon, but it cannot fail."

“In the past Syria’s presence was the main obstacle. Today the obstacle comes from within Lebanon but that does not mean that foreigners are not involved. The Syrian presence in Lebanon, which had been a military presence, has currently changed into a political presence. [. . .] What can be done? The truth is that some Lebanese are going to great lengths to help the foreign solution that is not good for Lebanon.”

Meanwhile the 14 March Movement has explicitly endorsed the mission of Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa. For the alliance that holds a majority in Lebanon’s parliament the election of Suleiman “is a priority” and the prime element in the Arab initiative to solve the Lebanese crisis, which also involves the formation of a national unity government and a new election law.

However, establishing a new cabinet remains the stumbling block insofar as the opposition has subordinated its support for General Suleiman on the number of seats it can get in the new executive.

For its part the ruling alliance has rejected Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah's confused reference to an Islamic government, saying that such words “worry a big portion of the Lebanese” and are out of step with Lebanon’s reality. (PD)

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