Lebanon News

Cabinet should change if need be, but no to power vacuum: Rai

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai. (The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Maronite Cardinal Beshara Rai rejected Thursday night a change in government that would leave behind a power vacuum and urged political leaders to engage in National Dialogue.

“It is important to respond to President Michel Sleiman's invitation to [National] Dialogue and work on changing the government if need be but calmly, without plunging ourselves into a vacuum,” Rai told reporters at a news conference in Rome.

Lebanon’s opposition has boycotted the all-party talks, conditioning their return to Nation Dialogue on the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati resigning over the recent assassination of a top general who headed the police’s Information Branch.

The Oct. 19 killing of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan has led a political stalemate with the March 14 coalition also boycotting Parliament work that includes ministers.

Rai said that Dialogue provided the groundwork for stability in the country.

“Lebanon should be an element of stability in its Arab region and stability can only be built via understanding and Dialogue with each other,” the prelate said.

Rai, who spoke in Rome days before his official appointment as cardinal, also spoke on the subject of Lebanon’s Independence Day and said for real independence there needed to be three primary principles at play: safeguarding the exclusive right to decision-making with regard to internal and foreign; the integrity of the internationally-recognized territory in the absence of illegitimate arms; and national dignity.

Rai will join the Catholic Church's College of Cardinals on Saturday when he will be officially appointed to the newly elected "Princes of the Church" in a ceremony at St. Peter's Basilica.

Lebanon's newest Cardinal is one of six non-European prelates, including American James Michael Harvey and Nigeria's John Onaiyekan

During his chat with reporters, Rai stressed on the need for holding the 2013 parliamentary election on time and reiterated his objection to the 1960s electoral law that was used in the 2009 elections.

"We voice our objections to that law and we will not accept delays because we should respect constitutional timeframes but we will not block roads or burn tires if the 1960s law is adopted,” he said.





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