Maronite Bishops: Armed Groups Must Lay down Their Weapons in Favor of Official Security Forces

The Maronite Bishops council condemned on Wednesday the spread of illegal arms in Lebanon, saying that it will only create chaos in the country.

They said in a statement: “All armed groups must lay down their weapons in favor of official security forces.”

The bishops made their remarks after their monthly meeting headed by Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi.

“Political groups cannot rely on arms to achieve their goals, but they should do so through democratic means,” they declared.

“Lebanon is passing through a critical phase and the people must adhere to coexistence in order to fortify their country,” they demanded.

The bishops therefore called on all political powers to launch dialogue and respect the state and army.

Commenting on the political deadlock, they lamented the parliament's failure to approve a new electoral law, saying that the extension of its mandate is an “unjustified” excuse to cover up this failure.

They also demanded the formation of a new government capable of tackling the political disputes and easing the tensions.

The parliament extended its mandate for 17 months after political powers failed to agree on a new electoral law, prompting the postponement of the elections to 2014.

Addressing the Syrian crisis, the council condemned the intervention of any Lebanese power in the conflict regardless if it supports the regime or the rebels “because it violates Lebanon's sovereignty.”

Eighteen soldiers were killed and 50 were wounded in clashes in Sidon between the army and armed supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir on June 22 and 23.

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