ASIA/LEBANON - The Maronite Bishops: who boycots Parliament sessions to elect a new president places the Country at risk

Friday, 20 June 2014

Bkerké (Agenzia Fides) - The choice of Lebanese MPs who boycot Parliament sessions convened for the election of the new President of the Nation, places Lebanon at a "great risk", particularly "amid the regional developments that threaten to change the map of the Middle East and dismantle the states". This is how the Bishops of the Maronite Church describe the moment experienced by the country in a statement released at the end of the annual Synod, held in the patriarchal seat of Bkerké from 11 to 19 June (see Fides 12/06/2014). According to the Maronite Bishops, the continued absence of a new President "represents the absence of a State, and poses a danger to the unity of the country as well as its security and economy".
Lebanon has been without a president since May 25, when the term of Michel Sleiman expired. So far, parliament has failed to elect a new Head of State 7 times due to the lack of quorum, especially because MPs linked to the Coalition "March 8" - which also includes the Shiite party Hezbollah - have decided they would only attend when there was an agreement ahead of time on a consensus candidate.
In the statement, sent to Fides Agency, the Maronite bishops also refer to the visit of the Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai to the Holy Land in May and his meetings with former members of the South Lebanon Army (ELS), the Lebanese militia who fought alongside Israel during its occupation of South Lebanon and fled to the Jewish state following its withdrawal in 2000. The ELS soldiers fought against the PLO militiamen and then also against those of Hezbollah, receiving weapons and logistical support from Israel. In the statement, the Bishops write that the visit of Maronite Patriarch Rai "gave hope to a resolution to the issue of the Lebanese exiled in Israel", showing that "the spirit of reconciliation between the country’s citizens is possible", and so is the ability to turn the page on the Civil War. Lebanese factions such as Hezbollah consider the ELS soldiers as traitors. While the Maronite Bishops argue that many of them were forced to fight alongside Israel. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 20/06/2014)