07/07/2014, 00.00
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For Patriarch Rahi, parliament should meet every day until it elects a new president

The prelate makes the request to the parliamentary speaker. Some people "are hindering the election, directly or indirectly"; others "are supporting them in and outside the country"; all are doing "serious harm to Lebanon."

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi called on parliament to meet daily until it elects a new President. He warned that anyone who hinders, directly or indirectly, the election is harming Lebanon.

The cardinal made the request to Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berry during the Mass he celebrated yesterday at the Church of Dimane. "Daily sessions are compulsory under the Constitution," he explained.

"To those who are hindering the election, directly or indirectly, and those who are supporting them in and outside the country, those who do serious harm to Lebanon, we say that it [presidency] does not belong to anyone but to the entire people."

"We call on friendly nations to urge the Lebanese parliament to elect a new head of state," he said, "in order to preserve the country's role on the Arab and international scene."

During the Mass, the patriarch welcomed a group of young Americans and Canadians of Lebanese origin, who came to the country as part of the 'Back to Roots' programme promoted by the Maronite Foundation in the World.

In his view, the political divisions within the Maronite community are "regrettable" and are behind the failure to elect a new president in a "flagrant violation of the Constitution and the national pact", which attributes the presidency to a Christian.

Lebanon has been without a president since May when Michel Suleiman left office. Eight sessions of the Parliament to elect the president failed to find a successor.

In seven of them, the failure was caused by the Hizbollah-led "8 March" coalition, which boycotted the vote because it could not work out an agreement with the "14 March" group.

The next session of Parliament is scheduled for 23 July.

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