Al-Rahi Slams Lebanese Politicians: Masks Have Fallen

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Friday criticized Lebanese politicians for “destroying” the country and slammed lawmakers for “protecting their seats” at the parliament.

At the end of his two-week pastoral visit to Australia, al-Rahi said: “Politicians destroy and we build no matter what.”

“The masks have fallen from the faces of our officials in Lebanon.”

Al-Rahi has been lately venting his anger at Lebanese lawmakers who on Wednesday extended the term of the parliament for the second time.

“The MPs hurried like brave students to protect their seats by extending their tenure and going against the will of the people and the constitution,” he said during a press conference ahead of his return to Beirut.

The patriarch also blasted parliamentarians who rejected the extension, saying they should reveal their objection by resigning from the 128-member parliament.

The legislature voted by 95 votes out of 97 members present to extend its mandate until June 20, 2017.

Only two lawmakers voted against the draft-law. But 31 boycotted the session altogether in protest over the controversial decision.

Parliamentary elections were originally scheduled for the middle of 2013, but MPs approved a 17-month extension of their mandate on May 31, 2013.

The pro-extension MPs claimed on Wednesday they needed to stay in office because the political stalemate and security concerns have deepened.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since May, when President Michel Suleiman stepped down after his six-year term ended without a replacement. The presidency is the country's top Christian-held position.

Asked about the vacuum at Baabda Palace and who would vote for a president if the parliament is illegitimate, al-Rahi said: “I will not talk to them (MPs), but to the states that sent them orders because they are not the decision-makers.”

Al-Rahi accused the lawmakers on several occasions of taking orders from outside powers.



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