BEIRUT: Caretaker Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil urged Monday holding the presidential elections on time as he appealed for the release of the group of nuns seized earlier this month in Syria.
“We stress the need for holding the presidential elections on time,” Khalil said during a graduation ceremony for scouts in south Lebanon.
Lebanon’s next presidential elections are due in May 2014.
He said the Lebanese parties should start working on reaching a consensus over electing a new president “with the least divisions and challenges.”
“This requires that the political forces meet with each other and pave the way for holding the presidential elections,” he said, warning that a possible vacuum in the presidential post would plunge the country into “major political crises.”
The minister also urged the need for releasing the captured nuns in Syria as well as the two bishops seized earlier this year.
“The captured nuns in Syria should be released and a swift settlement is needed over outstanding issues, particularly the issue of the kidnapped bishops,” he said.
Earlier this week, 13 nuns were taken by Syrian rebels from their convent in the historic Syrian town of Maaloula.
In April, armed men kidnapped Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim while traveling to Aleppo from the Turkish border. Efforts have been ongoing to secure their release.