05/16/2005, 00.00
LEBANON
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Sfeir thinking about calling a Christian General Congress

On his 85th birthday, the Patriarch warns against all those who want to show that the Lebanese cannot govern themselves. He received President Chirac's best wishes.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – On the eve of an election that will be carried out according to an electoral law that, in his opinion, 'marginalises all of Lebanon's communities", Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir is thinking about calling a 'Christian General Congress'.

This comes in the wake of a proposal to that effect made by Minister Suleiman Frangieh to examine the 'disquieting political phase" in which the country finds itself.

"The situation we are in," the patriarch said during the homily, "is disquieting. We have numerous difficulties. There are people who want to show that the Lebanese are incapable of governing themselves and need to be under permanent supervision. Only our common will to solve our problems with wisdom and prudence can refute this idea. This implies that there are no winners and losers in Lebanon".

"Under the current law," he added, "that was imposed on us in the last election and that some people want to keep as is, one of the families that make up Lebanese society feels it is harmed and members of a large family who feel harmed cannot but create waves in the family. This we refuse and reject. We pray God that He may inspire those in charge that they may spare the country a cruel experience".

On his birthday yesterday, the Patriarch celebrated mass before the cameras of TV Light and the microphones of The Voice of Charity radio.

For his 85th birthday he also received a message from French President Jacques Chirac who expressed to him and the Maronite community his best wishes.

In the meantime, Saad Hariri, son of the murdered former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, released the names of those running on his party lists in three Beirut ridings in the May 29 election. (JH)

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