Lebanon letting foreign states decide on president: Maronite patriarch
Written by Malek

BEIRUT: The failure of Lebanese politicians to elect a president is effectively allowing foreign powers to make the decision for them, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said Sunday. “The Lebanese (politicians) have given up on their role in electing a president, because they've let (countries) abroad decide for them," Rai said during a mass held in the eastern town of Ferzol.

Rival parties have failed numerous times to elect a successor to Michel Sleiman, whose tenure ended in May 2014. The main candidates for the presidency are Change and Reform bloc leader Michel Aoun and Marada Movement head Sleiman Frangieh, both of whom have boycotted parliamentary sessions to elect a new head of state.

Countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, which have a heavy influence in Lebanese politics, have both previously denied that they are interfering in the election.

The Maronite patriarch also called on the Lebanese to preserve their unity, adding that the diversity in the country was what kept it unique.

“Lebanon is nothing without its diversity, and Christians in the Levant have historic roots and we will not give up those roots,” he said.