11/12/2007, 00.00
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Sfeir: if a president is not elected the nation risks annihilation

Following the Pope’s appeal, the Patriarch recalls parliamentarians to their “national duty” and evokes a dark prospective. Contrasting voices regarding the cardinals convoking of Christian leaders and on the possibility he present a list of candidates.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Clouds are gathering over the future of Lebanon; the decision by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to postpone – for the third time – the date of elections for the president of the republic and ensuing voices that do not exclude that on the 21st, three days before the current president’s mandate empire, that consensus will not be reached regarding a candidate for the next head of state.

It is, as the Pope said yesterday “a crucial passage, upon which depends the very survival of Lebanon and its institutions”. Benedict XVI’s prayer, “we appeal to the intercession of Our Lady of Lebanon, that she may inspire the interested parties to distance themselves from personal interests and to a true passion for the common good”, has been joined by the appeal of the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir that deputies carry out their “national duty”.  The alternative put forward by the cardinal is a dark one, which speaks of the “the death and annihilation of the nation”.

Yesterday, An Nahar pondered whether the Patriarch will take on the responsibility of calling a meeting of Christian leaders to elaborate a consensual list of candidates for the post of President, which according to the Constitution, must be filled by a Christian.

Sources closet o the Patriarch, quoted by the daily, maintain however that such a meeting could not take place and that even if it did would fail in its objective.  Given the circumstances a possible decision by card. Sfeir to draw up a list of candidates excluding Michel Aoun, Butros Harb, Nassib Lahoud and even the current president Emile Lahoud would be most surprising. 

But the Maronite Bishop of Beirut, Paul Matar claims it is possible that the Patriarch call a meeting of Christian politicians to “make crucial decisions”.

According to the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, the decision to postpone was made under International pressure, which aim to give card. Sfeir the possibility to present a list of “consensus” candidates.  In this light, French and Italian Foreign Minsiters Bernard Kouchner and Massimo D’Alema are due to arrive in Lebanon later this week. (PD)


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See also
Pope talks about the Middle East, the Holy Land and the food crisis with Bush
The week begins in a climate of distrust ahead of the crucial choice for Head of State
EU Foreign Ministers mission fails, another delay in Presidential vote
The UN asks that the Lebanese president is elected without outside interference
Bishops invite Parliament to save Lebanon, by electing a President


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