ASIA/LEBANON - Patriarch Rai: The new President should not be linked to the two "blocks"

Monday, 28 July 2014

Diman (Agenzia Fides) - "The 'March 14 Coalition ' does not want a president aligned with the 'March 8 Coalition'. And the 'March 8 Coalition' does not want a President aligned with the 'March 14 Coalition'. Therefore one needs to look for a President who is not part of the blocks". This is according to the Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, Bechara Boutros Rai the only way out of the political impasse that for months has been deteriorating the political and institutional framework of Lebanon, where the two dominant political blocks are unable to reach an agreement on the election of a new Head of State. The institutional Lebanese system reserves the office of the Head of State to a Maronite Christian. And according to Patriarch Rai "there are many Maronite figures who are worthy of becoming a Head of State". The patriarchal considerations on the political and institutional crisis which the Land of the Cedars is experiencing were expressed by Cardinal Rai during Sunday Mass celebrated yesterday at the patriarchal summer residence in Diman.
The Lebanese Constitution decrees that the new President is elected two months before the end of the term of his predecessor. The office of incumbent President Michel Sleiman came to an end at the end of May. Since then, all attempts to elect his successor have failed because of the contrast between the two blocks that dominate the political scene of the Country: the March 8 Coalition - which sees the Shiites of Hezbollah allied with the Free Patriotic Movement led by former Maronite General Michel Aoun - and the March 14 Coalition - where the Lebanese Forces led by Maronite Samir Geagea are allied with the Sunnis of the 'Future' Party of Saad Hariri. During his homily, Patriarch Rai proposed once again the coexistence between Christians and Muslims as a hallmark in the history of Lebanon and as an antidote to sectarian impulses that are shaking the Middle East scenario: "for two thousand years", said the Patriarch, "Christians have given rise to the culture of the region through the Gospel, and there were even 1400 years of Islamic culture, which interacted together with with the philosophy of coexistence". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 28/07/2014)