» 01/29/2014, 00.00
Maronite Patriarch: Lebanon needs a president
Fearful of political chaos and critical of those who want a divided Lebanon and are working against the country's unity, Card Beshara Al-Rahi calls for a speedy election. For him, "the Arab Spring will blossom only through Lebanon."
- Card Beshara Al-Rahi, Patriarch of the Maronite Church, in an interview
yesterday with Lebanese daily As Safir,
said that the election of a new president, national unity and respect for the constitution
are some of some of the urgent issues the country must address. Attempts to "postpone the
presidential elections", in his view, would be like "death."
the past eight months because of intra-Muslim divisions between Shias and
Sunnis over the war in Syria, the country has seen its political divisions
spill over into acts of violence in Tripoli (northern Lebanon) and the capital
"The problem is that everyone wants to divide the country
according to his perspective instead of becoming as one," Card al-Rahi said.
appeal is first and foremost for his fellow Christians, who represent about 40 per
cent of the population, many of them living and still moving abroad as a result
of extremism and political crisis at home.
"Christians should play their
important role in Lebanon and the Arab world," he explained for the "Arab
spring will only bloom through Lebanon."
In addition, he warns
that the Arab world is fragmenting and Christians are in danger of slipping into a "sectarian trap," which
he believes would mean their "end."
Set for May
2013, Lebanon's parliamentary and presidential elections were postponed several
times because of the war in Syria and mutual vetoes by the country's two main political
blocs: the 8 March coalition, led by the Shia-dominated Hizbollah (in alliance
with the Free Patriotic Movement of Maronite General Michel Aoun); and the predominant
Sunni and Christian Maronite 14 March movement.
Michel Suleiman is
the outgoing president. He was elected in 2008 after a compromise deal between
the country's various political and religious factions.
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."
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