BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai reiterated Sunday his criticism of lawmakers' failure to elect a new head of state and said that the Cabinet could not replace the president.
“The reality in Lebanon is the Constitution and the [understanding between parties] is the National Pact,” Rai said during his Sunday sermon in Bkirki.
“The failure to elect a new president is a grave violation to the Constitution, and it causes paralysis in constitutional institutions,” he added. “The Cabinet replacing the president for an indefinite period is a grave violation to the Constitution and the National Pact, this also excludes Maronites from the first presidency post.”
Rai said that “Parliament cannot assume its constitutional missions in light of presidential void nor can the Cabinet practice its authorities.”
Dating back to 1943, the National Pact is an unwritten agreement that laid the foundation of Lebanon as a multi-confessional state and has governed the political dynamics of the country to this day. The presidency is the top post assumed by Maronites in the country. The Constitution stipulates that the Cabinet assume the president’s role in light of presidential vacuum.
Lebanon plunged into a presidential vacuum on May 25 with the end of President Michel Sleiman’s six-year term and no candidate capable of garnering the required majority to win. Parliament is set to meet on June 9 in another attempt to vote for a new president.
Rai said that lawmakers should go back to the Constitution and National Pact and “get the country out of paralysis and divisions.”
“We would pray for them to realize their responsibility in aggravating the economic and social crisis and in the humiliation of the people by neglecting them and causing them poverty,” he said. “The lawmakers should realize they are responsible for the violation of the nation’s pride by depriving the country of a president that protects it and gives legitimacy to all other institutions, just like a head protects the body.”