Cardinal Rai accuses Lebanese officials


Cardinal Rai accuses Lebanese officials of causing power vacuum, violating constitution

Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Boutros Rai slammed on Monday Lebanese lawmakers for violating the constitution by causing presidential vacuum and extending their own term.
“Deputies are using their power to cause paralysis at the presidential post due to their personal and foreign interests,” said Cardinal Rai in his opening statement at the 48th meeting of the council of catholic patriarchs and bishops in Lebanon.

“The church will double its efforts in meeting the needs of the families,” he said, urging the civil society to exert further efforts to preserve the family and protect it.

Last week, Lebanon’s parliament voted to extend its own mandate until 2017 citing security concerns linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria, but critics including the European Union condemned the move as unconstitutional.

Lebanese politics, long dogged by sectarian divisions, has become deeply deadlocked as the Syrian war exacerbates party rivalries. Lebanon has been without a president since May because feuding lawmakers cannot agree on a candidate.

Ninety-five out of 97 parliamentarians present voted for the extension bill, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said. It is the second postponement of parliamentary elections, which should originally have taken place in June 2013.

Downtown Beirut, where the parliament is located, was locked down by security forces for the vote and protesters hurled tomatoes and eggs at police.

The head of Lebanon’s Maronite Christian community, Patriarch Beshara Rai, called the extension “illegitimate and unconstitutional”, according to the NNA.