Al-Rahi Angered by Presidential Vacuum: Protests, Civil Disobedience an Option

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi allegedly will not hesitate in calling for protests and civil disobedience over the ongoing presidential deadlock, urging the U.S. administration in a letter to facilitate the matter in cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

According to As Safir newspaper published on Friday, al-Rahi expressed readiness a day before during a meeting with the Maronite institutions to call for wide protests led by the church.

“Al-Rahi will call for nationwide protests... and civil disobedience if the ongoing vacuum remains,” sources told the newspaper.

Lebanon has been plunged into a leadership vacuum after Michel Suleiman's presidential term ended on May 25 with rival political blocs still divided over a new leader.

Over the past two months the parliament convened five times to try to elect a successor to Suleiman but failed during the last four sessions due to a lack of quorum.

The presidential vacuum raised fears that it would affect Lebanon's power-sharing agreement under which the president should be a Maronite, the premier a Sunni and the speaker a Shiite.

On Thursday, a delegation from the Maronite institutions visited al-Rahi to brief him on the result of its talks with the country's top Maronite political leaders on the country's presidential crisis.

The representatives of the institutions have previously held talks with Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea, who is the March 14 alliance's candidate, Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Kataeb party chief Amin Gemayel.

Meanwhile, sources revealed in comments to al-Mustaqbal newspaper that al-Rahi handed over to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a letter to be delivered to his country's administration.

The sources said that the “written paper expresses Bkirki's concerns.”

“Al-Rahi demanded Kerry during their meeting to facilitate the presidential elections by cooperating with Iran and Saudi Arabia no matter who the candidates are,” the sources noted.

They pointed out that the U.S. official vowed that his country will do “everything it can to resolve the matter,” adding that Washington “isn't interfering in the details and is only interested in safeguarding” Lebanon.

The meeting between the two officials came in light of a short visit carried out by Kerry to Lebanon on Wednesday.

Kerry is the first secretary of state to come to Lebanon in five years. Hillary Rodham Clinton visited in April 2009. Kerry traveled to Lebanon at least four times as a senator since 2006, the last time in November 2010.



Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.