Since 1975
  • facebook
  • twitter

Lebanon’s Maronite patriarch criticizes parliament for not electing president

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai. (AFP file photo)
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai. (AFP file photo)
Short Url:
10 Feb 2024 12:02:16 GMT9
10 Feb 2024 12:02:16 GMT9
  • We do not know why parliament is not called to convene to fulfill its primary duty, which is to elect a president
  • Presidential vacuum has continued for a year and three months amid deep political divisions

Najia Houssari

BEIRUT: During a religious celebration in central Beirut, he said that Lebanon was a country where “the constitution is violated in the absence of a president, while the nation needs one to put an end to pseudo-national unity governments, confiscate all illegal weapons, and challenge anyone who encroaches on sovereignty and independence.”

Al-Rahi added: “We do not know why parliament is not called to convene to fulfill its primary duty, which is to elect a president. We now doubt the intentions and see in the obstruction of the presidential election suspicious, unacceptable and condemned motives.”

The presidential vacuum has continued for a year and three months amid severe political division within parliament, without any Maronite candidate reaching the second round of presidential elections.

Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal Movement, insist on a candidate close to the Syrian president — former Minister Sleiman Frangieh — a nomination opposed by Christian parties in Lebanon.

The vacuum extends to positions designated for the Maronite sect, including the position of governor of the central bank, currently held by the Shiite deputy governor in an acting capacity, and the extension of another significant Maronite position, the army commander, before his retirement for an additional year. Both positions require the presence of a president to fill the vacuum.

The country is is being run by a caretaker government unable to make decisions. However, it has begun making appointments for vacant positions, as happened in Thursday’s session when a chief of staff was appointed on the pretext that the army commander was unable to travel in light of the vacancy in this position.

After turning into an electoral body, parliament began to deviate from its constitutional duty of electing the president and has started to practice legislation under the slogan of “legislation of necessity.”

Meanwhile, in southern Lebanon, a war initiated by Hezbollah under the slogan of “supporting the resistance in the Gaza Strip” continues. Four months in, it has resulted in the death of more than 200 fighters from Hezbollah and allied parties, as well as civilians, and has led to massive destruction in the border villages.

Al-Rahi said in his sermon: “No one should attempt to turn the Maronites from free apostles into followers; they have a history of their own that cannot be erased, as they played a decisive role in establishing the state of Greater Lebanon.

“Lebanon has a positive, neutral system that gives it a role of mediation, gathering, dialogue, commitment to consolidating justice and peace, and protecting peoples’ rights.”

Al-Rahi said: “We seem to be facing a programmed process of excluding the Maronites from the state, starting from not electing a president and closing the presidential palace. In the absence of a president, the constitution is violated, and there is no authority to stop this abnormal reality. Have we become a state whose system is tyrannical, replacing the declared system in the preamble to the constitution?”

Al-Rahi criticized “the violation of the constitution through the heresy of necessity adopted by parliament and the Cabinet to make appointments.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli army violated rules of engagement for a second day, targeting areas north of the Litani River.

An Israeli drone fired two missiles at a house in the town of Yohmor Al-Shaqif in the Nabatiyeh governorate, without causing any casualties as the house was unoccupied.

On Thursday, an Israeli drone pursued a car carrying two Hezbollah members in the Nabatiyeh area and launched a missile at it, wounding both individuals. They managed to jump out of the car, but one of them sustained critical injuries and the car was completely burnt out.

In the past 24 hours, Hezbollah has targeted “spy equipment in the Doviv Barracks with appropriate weapons,” according to the party’s statement. It also targeted “Meron air base with Falaq 1 missiles,” after targeting “the headquarters of the Second Infantry Brigade at the Israeli Ein Zeitim base with dozens of Katyusha rockets.”

Hezbollah attacks also targeted three Israeli barracks in the Golan Heights, using a Falaq-1 missile, as well as at Branit and Kiryat Shmona. Israel confirmed that the attacks resulted in three Israeli casualties, including an officer.

Hezbollah also attacked the Israeli Birkat Risha site with two Burkan missiles, a building in the Metula settlement, the radar site in the Occupied Shebaa Farms, and the Zaoura site.

Israeli artillery shelling and airstrikes targeted the town of Maroun Al-Ras, a house in the town of Aita Al-Shaab in the Bint Jbeil district, and an uninhabited house in Markaba, and carried out an airstrike that destroyed a house in the town of Tayr Harfa in the Tyre region.

The town of Kfarkela was targeted with shelling from a Israeli Markeva tank, and the airstrikes included the towns of Kfarkela and Al-Khiyam in the Marjaayoun and Hasbaya regions, causing only material damage.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Beirut to hold talks with Lebanese officials.

Most Popular

return to top