05/05/2008, 00.00
LEBANON
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Sfeir to talk about Lebanese crisis with Ban Ki-moon and George Bush

Maronite patriarch will meet emir of Qatar today; tomorrow he will travel to South Africa. Before leaving he talked about the possibility of a UN intervention “if the Lebanese are unable to re-establish security and the sovereignty of the state”.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, US President George Bush and Spain’s King Juan Carlos are the main leaders Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir will meet in his long trip which began yesterday and will last until the 26 of the month.

The cardinal’s journey began in Qatar where he will meet Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and celebrate a Mass in Our Lady of the Rosary Church, which was inaugurated a month ago in Doha. Tomorrow the patriarch will fly off to South Africa where he will remain eight days.

Yesterday at Beirut airport the cardinal talked about the most serious issues in his country’s political crisis, saying among other things that “if the Lebanese cannot re-establish security and the sovereignty of the state, the United Nations might take the necessary steps for that purpose. Of course, some might not appreciate this idea, but let us hope that the Lebanese will be able to take their destiny in their own hands, provided they abandon their personal hatreds and appreciate the advantages that the country will have from the re-establishment of its independence and the respect of its sovereignty and recovered stability.”

As for the fundamental issue of the election of the president, the patriarch renewed the appeal to lawmakers “to assume their responsibility” warning them against eventual violations of the constitution.

“The constitution’” he said, “provides that the president is elected at a sitting [of the house] in which two thirds of the members of parliament are present. If the president gets two thirds of the votes that would be perfect but he can also be elected by a 50+1 majority. However, if the House meets without a quorum, that would be a violation of the constitution. And one violation would lead to another with the risk that we would end up with two heads of state.” (PD)

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