BEIRUT: Lebanese citizens have the right to live in safety and their state entitled to have sole authority over weapons in the country, Cardinal Beshara Rai said Sunday.
“Lebanese have the right to a life of security, and not security by consent or under the mercy of arms,” Rai said, speaking from Bkirki.
“Arms should be restricted to the military, security and constitutional institutions,” he added.
Rival politicians have for years fought over the issue of weapons outside the state’s authority.
The head of the Maronite church also reiterated the need for National Dialogue, the formation of a new Cabinet and for politicians to agree on an electoral law to govern the upcoming parliamentary elections.
“The Lebanese are in need of Dialogue at the national level. They also have the right to have an effective Cabinet that endorses unity and achieves national reconciliation,” he said.
Rai’s comments come a day after President Michel Sleiman cancelled for the second time the National Dialogue session planned for next week.
Sleiman has repeatedly tried to get politicians back to the National Dialogue table amid a political crisis following the assassination of a top security official in November.
His office said Saturday that no other date has been set for the upcoming session.
The opposition March 14 coalition has boycotted the all-party talks, insisting that the prime minister step down and that a neutral salvation cabinet be formed to oversee the 2013 elections.
The opposition’s stance was triggered by the Oct. 19 assassination of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, who headed the police’s Information branch. They hold Syria responsible for the killing and say the Lebanese government provided the cover needed for the incident to take place.
Rai has called for the formation of a government to oversee the upcoming elections, which is expected to be held in June of this year.
During the Mass Sunday, Rai said the people deserved a “new and fair” electoral law.
“They [Lebanese] also have the right to a new and fair electoral law that ensures them the right to vote freely and elect the representatives without having [representatives] imposed on them,” the Christian leader said.
Rai rejects holding the upcoming elections on the basis of the “1960 law” – a qada-based, winner-takes-all-system that was used in the previous parliamentary polls.
Rival lawmakers are expected to resume next week discussions on draft electoral laws.
Rai also urged Sunday that political division in the country end.
“The Lebanese have the right for the political divisions in the country to end,” he said.