BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai Sunday warned politicians against manipulating the upcoming presidential election, once again urging Speaker Nabih Berri to convene Parliament to vote on the next head of state as soon as possible.
“I warn you against manipulating this presidential election, which is the cornerstone of the state and its institutions,” Rai said during his sermon in Bkirki.
“Talk about a vacuum or seeking a vacuum for unknown reasons is an insult to the dignity of the nation and the people and is a sign of the inability of lawmakers,” he added.
Late last month, Lebanon entered the two-month constitutional period to elect a new president, the country’s top Christian post, during which the speaker is expected to convene two rounds of parliamentary elections.
Although the leaders of the four main Maronite parties are all natural candidates for the presidency, only Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has announced his candidacy.
Rai also said called on lawmakers to attend the parliamentary session to ensure a quorum, saying such a vote was “a national and moral commitment.”
"In the name of the people, I call on the speaker to convene Parliament for an election session so that candidates' name would surface via voting and consultations as soon as its legislative sessions are over,” Rai said, his second such appeal to Berri.
The speaker has launched his own consultations by dispatching a delegation from his parliamentary bloc to hold talks with rival groups.
“Lebanon needs a strong president ... capable of strengthening the state, its institutions, its unity and sovereignty and protecting it along with the Constitution and the national pact,” he said.
"We pray that political officials recognize this constitutional deadline with a spirit void of personal and party interests ... to find a president for the current phase."