03/03/2005, 00.00
LEBANON
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Lebanese bishops call for interim government, urge unity

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanon's Maronite and Melkite Bishops have called for an interim government urging unity as the way for the country to come out of its current crisis.

In a meeting presided by Patriarch Card Nassrallah Sfeir, the Maronite Bishops' Higher Council renewed its appeal for a transitional government of national unity that would lead the country into parliamentary elections scheduled for next May.

Meeting at the Patriarch's residence in Bkerke, the Bishops acknowledged the fundamental role played by the student movement in the resignation of Prime Minister Omar Karame's pro-Syrian government.

They also expressed their satisfaction with the arrival of a UN team led by Irish Deputy Police Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald to investigate the February 14 attack against former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The Bishops said they hoped the truth about who was behind the car bomb that killed Mr Hariri and 17 other people would be revealed.

Lebanon's opposition and the international community believe Syria was one of the instigators of the attack.

Melkite Bishops meeting in Rabwe in the presence of Melkite patriarch Gregorius I Laham urged investigations be speeded up.

They expressed the hope that light will be shed on who was responsible for the death of a man whom they call "a businessman, a political leader, a statesman and a founder of the new Lebanon".

They, too, urged Lebanon's many communities to examine themselves to overcome the current crisis. Confirming their support for the official institutions of the country, the Bishops said they were in favour of a free, sovereign and independent Lebanon. (YH)

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