Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai Sunday criticized Lebanon's
politicians for their attempts to broker an all-inclusive deal to end
the country’s crises, saying such an agreement would strip the president
of his rights.
“The package (deal) that they are speaking of strips the president of
his prerogatives, and whoever accepts it lacks dignity,” Rai said at
Sunday's sermon, without mentioning which deal he was referring to. Leaders have been unable to elect a president for over two years, since Michel Sleiman's tenure ended in May 2014.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has for months urged a compromise over
the country’s many pressing issues, including the election of a head of
state, the adoption of a new electoral law for legislative polls and
the formation of a new Cabinet.
“Is this package [aimed at] stalling the election of a president, in anticipation of orders from abroad?” Rai asked.
The patriarch last month said that the decision to elect a new
Lebanese head of state was in the hands of foreign players, adding that
national leaders have given up on this responsibility.
Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have major influence in Lebanese politics.
“This (presidential) election precludes us from any deal, and parties must work for the national interest,” he said.
On Friday, Future Movement leader Saad Hariri met separately with
Change and Reform bloc head Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces chief Samir
Geagea. This capped five days of intensive consultations with various
political leaders aimed at ending the presidential void that has
paralyzed Parliament and crippled the government’s work.
While Aoun is backed by Geagea, Hariri backs Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh.
Aoun’s party has boycotted parliamentary sessions to elect a
president along with its ally Hezbollah, as they say they want
assurances that Aoun will win. This has received a backlash from rivals,
who say that selecting rather than electing Aoun negates Lebanon’s