06/28/2005, 00.00
Send to a friend

Lahoud and Sfeir meet and discuss electoral result and Lebanon's future

by Youssef Hourany

Among issues tackled: revamping the country's economy, security and the electoral law

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The election results and a "climate of heightened awareness of religion which characterised vote counting in certain regions" of Lebanon were the focus of an encounter between Lebanese president, General Emile Lahoud and Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir. Lahoud is seeking Sfeir's backing after an increase in opposition calls for his resignation.

Lahoud went to Bkerke, the summer headquarters of the Maronite patriarch, with whom he was closeted for more than an hour. This was the first official meeting between the two after their meeting at the funeral of John Paul II last April in Rome.

The president's visit is seen by analysts as a diplomatic move to garner support from the Maronite patriarch, who is president of the Assembly of Patriarchs and Catholic Bishops of Lebanon, and also to talk about upcoming dates of political importance: the election of the president of the House of Representatives – scheduled for Tuesday – and the appointment of a prime minister. Despite opposition demands, the general confirmed that he "will remain in power until the end of his mandate in 2007"; meanwhile Patriarch Sfeir said on Friday 24 June that the resignation of the president "could only be sought by legal means".

New government priorities featured among arguments discussed, including the fight against corruption, administrative reform, the need to bring about an economic re-launch and the reorganisation of finances. The decline in security was also at the heart of the talks; both sides insisted that a more rigorous commitment was called for to reassure citizens. On the strongly felt issue of the electoral law, General Lahoud reiterated his "reservations with regard to the 2000 text". The patriarch has also strongly criticised the law, defining electoral results in many regions as "not representative for Christians". Lahoud described the meeting as "excellent".

On Sunday, during his sermon at Mass in Bkerke, Patriarch Sfeir deplored the current situation in Lebanon in the wake of a series of killings which shook the nation last week. "What we see is contrary to what we hope for," he said. "The wave of hate is not ceasing and killings continue. People are asking themselves who will be the next victim, whose name will be added to the list of those who have already been assassinated. The last was George Hawi." The patriarch ended his homily by saying: "All this contributes towards creating a sick atmosphere for citizens and it discourages the friends of Lebanon from coming here in summer. This deprives Lebanese of a necessary source of income to tackle misery and poverty."

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Bishops against constitutional changes to presidential election process
Lahoud under pressure to step down as inter-Lebanese meeting is set
Maronite bishops call for new electoral law, Geagea's release
Maronite bishops want parliament re-convened before crisis turns into popular unrest
National unity government, a new president and elections are needed, says Cardinal Sfeir


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”