BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai reiterated his warnings against a presidential vacuum, saying that a new president capable of uniting the Lebanese must be elected.
“We must come out with a new president capable of meeting the needs and aspirations of the Lebanese people,” Rai said, following his meeting with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Paris late Wednesday.
“Discussions [with Hariri] addressed the characteristics of a president who can unite the Lebanese, ease the divisions among them and bring them all together around the state and its institutions,” he said.
“Parliament must fulfill its duty to elect a new president at any price, we are totally against a vacuum and I am surprised that some allow themselves to talk about a vacuum.”
Rai described a possible vacuum in the presidential post as a “national crime against Lebanon,” and said he would exert all efforts to avoid it.
“A state without a president is like a body without a head,” the patriarch said.
Rai said he did not discuss the names of presidential candidates with Hariri arguing that “it is not his mission to propose names but the task of parliamentary and political blocs.”
Lebanon’s Parliament twice failed to elect a successor for President Michel Sleiman, whose term ends on May 25. A new Parliament session is set on May 7 to vote for a new head of state.