BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri warned Saturday that a void risked turning the presidency into a target for political blackmail as he bid farewell to outgoing President Michel Sleiman.
“The last day of President Michel Sleiman’s term is an occasion to declare two realities; the first is that the majority of the Lebanese recognize Sleiman’s wise wisdom in managing the country’s affairs and insistence on National Dialogue as an irreplaceable means to confront political and sectarian tension,” Hariri said in a statement on the day when President Michel Sleiman bids farewell to the Lebanese from Baabda Palace.
“The second reality is an honest call to deal with the presidential void ... as a serious risk that threatens the safety of the democratic system and turns the presidency into a target for permanent [political] blackmail,” the statement said.
“There is no flaw in our Constitution preventing the rotation of power or causing such vacuum, the flaw is in not implementing the Constitution, but the inability to reach the required political courage to make mutual concessions and place the national interest before personal whims and interests,” Hariri said.
“There are only a few hours separating us from the constitutional deadline to elect a new president, and it would take a political miracle to secure the birth of a new president,” he said.
“However, we must be deeply aware of the dangers of keeping the top Christian post in our political system in void and the dangers of not having anyone among the Lebanese, particularly Christians, to declare the triumph of Lebanon’s right to have a president for the country.”
Hariri also said that the next president should commit to the Baabda Declaration issued by Sleiman, which is essential "to protect the nation against interference in foreign and random wars."
Lebanon is set to face a period of presidential void in the absence of a consensus among political rivals on who should be the next head of the state.