Bassil Conditions Approval of Suleiman's Proposal, Calls for Action on Kidnapped Nuns

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Caretaker Energy Minister Jebran Bassil welcomed on Sunday a proposal for lawmakers not to boycott parliamentary sessions on the presidential elections on condition there is prior agreement on a “strong” president.

President Michel Suleiman appealed on Saturday for MPs “to assume their responsibilities and not to deny the trust given to them by the people by guaranteeing a quorum for parliamentary sessions and avoiding the danger of a presidential vacuum.”

“The idea for a commitment to head to parliament to elect a president is welcomed on condition that there is prior agreement on a strong president,” Bassil said.

There are fears that the rivalry between the March 8 and 14 camps, which has so far prevented the formation of a new government, would spillover to the presidential elections and lead to a vacuum.

Suleiman's six-year term ends in May 2014. But the parliament should start meeting on March 25, the deadline set by the Constitution to agree on a new head of state.

“The agreement on a weak president is a huge crime,” Bassil, who is also a Free Patriotic Movement official, told the news conference.

“We need Christian unity on essential issues in Lebanon,” he said. “It is our duty as Christians to agree on some axioms on the presidential elections.”

“It is essential for the president to be strong but he should be strong within his sect,” he added.

Bassil also dealt with another issue that concerns Christians.

He said the kidnapping of Greek Orthodox nuns by rebels from Syria's Mar Takla convent in Maaloula was a “rude” act.

The rebels overran the village and the nuns were being kept in the nearby rebel-held town of Yabroud.

“There should be a peaceful action by the people to make their voices heard” on the nuns, Bassil said.

Lebanese politicians and mainly Christians should take extraordinary action to form delegations to visit the countries that are backing the rebels in Syria and stop the attack on Christians, he said.

Bassil told reporters that assaulting churches in Syria and clergymen and nuns required strong diplomatic action.

“Lebanon's Christians have a moral, religious and humanitarian duty to take action,” he said.

The nuns denied they were kidnapped, in a video broadcast by al-Jazeera news channel on Friday.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis called for prayers for the nuns and "for all kidnap victims in the conflict.”

The abduction has increased concerns about the treatment of Christians by hard-liners in the rebel ranks.

Bassil had been expected to discuss about two oil exploration decrees after news broke out that caretaker Premier Najib Miqati will not put them on the agenda of a cabinet session that he intends to hold.

The decrees call for demarcating 10 maritime oil exploration blocks and setting up a revenue-sharing model.

But the caretaker energy minister did not bring up the subject in his press conference.

Comments 18
Missing nuetral 08 December 2013, 14:55

Nice to hear opinions on who should be the next president.

Thumb cedre 08 December 2013, 15:05

u're right mystic, thats what bashar is hoping.
Thats why he bombed the monastery and tried to kill the nuns...

Missing sanctify 08 December 2013, 15:16

You're ok?

Thumb lebpatriot777 08 December 2013, 16:09

It is always only a matter of time before cannibal terrorists can't take it anymore and they have the sudden need to kill and eat humans. Darlings please go back to the desert of Saudi and feed on your own kind.

Thumb liefighter 08 December 2013, 16:32

Mret ya Honolulu, your hatred will kill you. you beg the Christians to come free you from Bashar, your kids are killed by chemicals, we are sorry for your kids.But nobody is moving coz there are Osamas like yourself.

Thumb cedre 08 December 2013, 18:20

no reason honolulu to lose dignity and be insulting...

Missing helicopter 08 December 2013, 18:57

President Suleiman was not strong within his sect, but he is strong for Lebanon. Berri is strong within his sect, but he is very weak for Lebanon.

Missing helicopter 08 December 2013, 19:36

Good Leaders unite the people of a nation, Lebanon has few or none of those (some who could have been were killed).
Good people would yearn for being united under one flag and one destiny ..... if this forum is any indication, we are doomed.
Fatfatouna aktaar ma kenna mafatfateen

Missing lebanon4ever 08 December 2013, 19:48

Your comments are not offensive to some people today, they are offensive to everyone. Grow up!

Missing lebanon4ever 08 December 2013, 19:58

Why do Lebanon's Christians have a duty to take action Mr. Bassil? Where were the Syrian Christians when Lebanon's Christians were getting slaughtered and kidnapped during the war? Leave the Syrians to fight their own war, regardless of whether they are Muslim, Christian, Druze or anything else. Let's comment on issues inside Lebanon and stop worrying about issues around us.

Thumb cedre 08 December 2013, 20:42

Loads of christian palestinians fought Israel.
Assads jails are full of christian and alawite opponents...

Thumb general_puppet 09 December 2013, 00:29

“It is essential for the president to be strong"… well that disqualifies Aoun

Thumb cedre 09 December 2013, 00:46

'Or raping a boy with health issues? '

please thefact, not u, come on...

Missing peace 09 December 2013, 01:23

it s a shame for these nuns and for all people kidnapped but why doesn't he also call for action when bashar massacres innocent civilians? nuns lives are more important? double standards on the value of people?

Missing watan-libnan 09 December 2013, 06:18

Hows that 24 hour electricity going so called minister of energy why don't you put your more effort in to your job that open your big mouth on issues that don't concern BWESIR

Missing watan-libnan 09 December 2013, 06:21

Who's in favour of auditing guys like BWESIR and their wealth since they started their portfolio .

Missing watan-libnan 09 December 2013, 13:31

Evil reigns when good men do nothing

Default-user-icon Hammerhead (Guest) 09 December 2013, 15:43

Aoun's alignment with HA and the Syrian regime is out of context, in nature and ideology with respect to his support base. On Aoun's part It was merely political manuvering. What baffles me is the fact that this alliance has transformed his followers for some unknown reason into staunch defenders of everything they were fighting against. Suddenly Bashaar is a saint and HA is the savior of Lebanon and everybody else is a takfiri or a zionest. FT could you explain the reason for this transformation, you are defending Bashaar at every instance. Is it a case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend? Has your complex with the LF rendered you incapable of reason? That being said, does that squirt Basssil really think that he can play the role of defender of the Christians.