BEIRUT: The head of the Maronite Church in Lebanon on Sunday launched a withering attack on the country’s political leaders accusing them of failing the Lebanese people and the world.
In his Sunday sermon, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi called for urgent international intervention to help resolve Lebanon’s dire political and economic situation.
And he slammed members of parliament for neglecting their duties to the nation.
Al-Rahi said: “Everything that the political and parliamentary group does is contrary to the foundations on which Lebanon has been built since its founding.
“It does not respect the idea of Lebanon’s establishment, partnership, pluralism, independence, the National Pact, Taif (Agreement), and the constitution.
“Is there a deliberate decision to demolish existing Lebanon and build on its ruins a draft state that does not belong to its people, its history, or its surroundings?”
The religious leader’s comments followed MPs’ inability for a ninth time to elect a new president, with many lawmakers at Thursday’s vote spoiling their ballots.
“This means that they do not want to elect a president, or they are not qualified to elect a president,” he added.
Al-Rahi pointed out that all parties needed to put their differences to one side if they were to avoid losing the trust of the Lebanese people and the respect of the international community.
With no internal solutions to the crises seemingly on the horizon, he reiterated his plea for the UN and other key decision-making countries to be drafted in to help before it was too late.
During his sermon, he said too many of Lebanon’s decision makers had failed to implement the letter and spirit of the Taif Agreement accusing them, “of being the ones who reject internationalization and do not want any solution to the Lebanese situation.
“Either Lebanon will be as they want it to be, or it will not be. But let everyone know that Lebanon will be as all its loyal sons want,” he added.
On the Church’s involvement in the country’s political crisis, Al-Rahi said: “It does not take sides except with the national right and adheres to the inclusive national principles, historical constants, and the constitution with its pact dimension.”
Jaafari Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Qabalan, who represents the Shiite Amal Movement and Hezbollah, hit back at Al-Rahi’s call for international assistance.
He said: “The UN has no business but to undermine Lebanon’s demographic structure through the UNHCR (refugee agency) and (other) associations, and New York is the center for sharing deals.
“Internationalization of the Lebanese cause is an explicit blow to Lebanese sovereignty, and we will not accept offering the head of Lebanon to any international or regional butcher.
“The solution is to respond to (Lebanon’s Parliament) Speaker Nabih Berri’s call that takes the country from estrangement to dialogue to save Lebanon from disasters. What is required is national courage for internal rescue,” Qabalan added.
Lebanese Forces MP Ghassan Hasbani said the party would be happy to participate in such a dialogue but added that there was “division within parliament as a result of the fact that there are those who want a reformist, sovereign president, and a party that wants a president who protects Hezbollah.”
Representative Ayoub Hamid, a member of the Parliamentary Development and Liberation Bloc headed by Berri, said: “The results of the parliamentary elections have produced a new reality that no one should deny. Dialogue remains the priority.
“There is no room in Lebanon for the dominance of one party, the arrogance of others, or exaggeration in dealing with national issues.
“Therefore, the call for dialogue in any matter is obligatory, because without dialogue, we cannot cross to safety.”