11/26/2007, 00.00
LEBANON
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Some think more about their own ambitions at the expense of the country, says Sfeir

by Youssef Hourani
Maronite patriarch again voices his concerns about the country’s constitutional vacuum. On Saturday he met PM Siniora who said he is willing to work with him. General Aoun criticises the meeting, urging the cardinal to leave politics to politicians and focus on Church matters.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanon’s political situation is still at a standstill, even more so now that the Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in Annapolis gets underway in a few days time. Concern continues over the ongoing constitutional vacuum.

Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir yesterday criticised politicians for placing their personal aspirations ahead of those of the country. Sources close to the religious leader said that for him the current situation was “very difficult,” one in which “we have all lost.”

The patriarch said he was worried but expressed hope that a solution might be found in the next session of parliament, scheduled for November 30. Otherwise the current deadlock might turn into something else.

The same sources said that the patriarch did not reject the possibility of presenting a candidate not included in last week’s list because the “good of the country which must prevail over everything else.”

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora gave the patriarch similar assurances when he met him last Saturday in Bkerke.

Mr Siniora confirmed that his government wants to see the electoral process through, saying that he was willing to co-operate with the patriarch on the matter. He also reiterated his total respect for the solutions presented by the patriarch himself.

Sources close to the Maronite patriarch told AsiaNews that for Patriarch Sfeir and Prime Minister Siniora the election ought to be completed by next week.

General Michel Aoun instead criticised Siniora’s visit and the “pomp” with which he was received in Bkerke. In an interview with NTV, General Aoun said that he was the “political patriarch” of the Christian community, calling on Cardinal Sfeir to leave politics in the hands of politicians and focus instead on Church issues.

Mr Aoun summoned Christian leaders to a series of meetings at his home, “not Bkerke,” championing his candidacy to the office of the presidency.

Once again Hizbollah expressed its support for General Aoun’s aspirations.

But Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, who is part of the parliamentary majority, renewed his appeal to Michel Aoun, asking him to be in parliament next Friday to fulfill his constitutional duty and pick one of the two candidates put forward by the majority, Boutros Harb or Nassib Lahoud, as president.

He also reiterated his full support for the election of the president by an absolute majority.

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See also
Maronite bishops urge Christian leaders to reconcile
19/12/2006
Tense calm in Beirut after general strike suspended
24/01/2007
Opposite pressures end national dialogue
08/03/2006
More and more talk about a “Saudi” solution to Lebanon’s political crisis
06/03/2007
Sec of State Rice snubs Syria
25/07/2005


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