"The main interference comes from the neighbors ... Syria left Lebanon, but maintains its existence in it through its (intelligence) agencies and pressures … Syria did not accept what has happened and seeks a return to Lebanon."
"I told the president who was sitting next to me here during Christmas that the country needs a salvation step, even at the expense of your term (in office). Later I sent him a written message with one of my aides urging him to abdicate...
...What does he [Lahoud] do? He spends his day with political wrangling and countering remarks made by his critics. This, certainly, hurts the image of the presidency."
"continues to place huge pressures on those groups and factions aligned with it, in order to hamper the creation of the International Tribunal and prevent the reaching of an internal entente."
"He [Michel Aoun] has an understanding with Hizbullah, assuming that he will have the party's backing to be chosen president."The Christians, continued the prelate, "are not united like the rest of the (Lebanese) communities. Some of them support the government and are allied with the majority and others are with the other side (opposition). They are the ones who aspire to return to power and rule Lebanon again, as it used to be ruled during the era of [Syria's] hegemony."
"[If we are to work ourselves out of this crisis], there is no doubt that the International Court is need, as well as an election law on the basis of the smaller districts that preserve the health of representation and fairness, that is where we need to start."
Several days after the publication of the above interview, Naharnet amended its 'exclusive' sneak-peak coverage of the Kuwaiti daily's interview with the prelate by noting that the Maronite secretariat has labeled Al Rai el Aam's publication of the interview as "inaccurate". Apparently, the Patriarch had not "mention[ed] specific names."
In statements clarifying the position outlined by the Maronite Patriarch, and then allegedly misrepresented by the Kuwaiti daily Al Raii el Aam, the Maronite Bishop's Council released a statement on Wednesday, April 4th, calling on the pro-Syrian opposition to end its paralysis of Parliament and any attempts to sabotage the presidential elections scheduled for November of this year.
Naharnet provides the following summary of the statement:
It [the statement] called for "halting any attempt to deactivate democracy and replacing it by non democratic practices."
The church called for "activating dialogue within constitutional institutions, especially the parliament which represents all political factions." To avoid escalating political differences into violence "we call on parliament to practice its constitutional and national roles … by deliberating the crisis and finding solutions to it through sound-democratic dialogue."
The statement warned that "disabling constitutional institutions is a harbinger to the collapse of the democratic regime." It urged all the parties "to resume dialogued with the aim of finding a settlement to this crisis and breathing life into the executive authority (government)."
The Maronite church "adheres to holding presidential elections as constitutionally scheduled." It warned that attempts by any faction to prevent quorum at the parliamentary session that would elect the new president would be an anti-constitutional attempt.
The statement was apparently referring to threats by the Hizbullah-led opposition to refrain from taking part in a parliamentary session to elect a new head of state, which would strip the legislature of a two-third quorum set by the constitution for the session. The Parliamentary majority which backs Premier Fouad Saniora's government does not control two thirds of the 128-seat parliament, but does have enough votes to elect a new head of state in the second round of balloting.
The statement also stressed that Lebanon "should adhere to the international legitimacy (U.N.) and all resolutions issued by its institutions." The Maronite Church called all concerned parties to "refrain from blocking" efforts by the United Nations to create an international tribunal "to try culprits in the serious crimes committed in Lebanon since October 2004."
Although some may not find that the statement goes far enough in pointing the finger (it doesn't 'name names') it does, however, underline the major points of the Maronite church's position. Namely:
- Its support for the establishment of the International Tribunal (only) through the Lebanese Parliament.
- Its oppostion to efforts by pro-Syrian groups to block the functions of the legislative branch (Parliament) of government in all instances and especially after having already impeded the executive branch's functionality (Cabinet, Presidency).
- Its support for the establishment of an electoral law with small (smaller than Mohafaza) electoral districts.
- Its support for the replacement of Emil Lahoud as President of the Republic (only) through constitutional means.
Unfortunately for the bishops, the Patriarch, and all those fighting for the establishment of the rule of law - and not the rule of Bashar and Tehran - in Lebanon, those against whom they are fighting might not feel strongly about abiding by constituional means.