The Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon met for their 55th annual general assembly Nov. 7-11, 2022, at Bkerke, the patriarchal seat north of Beirut. CNS photo/Mychel Akl for Maronite Patriarchate

Lebanon risks ‘paralysis’ with president impasse, say Church leaders

By  Doreen Abi Raad, Catholic News Service
  • November 16, 2022

BEIRUT -- With a presidential vacuum in Lebanon, the country’s Catholic religious leaders urged parliament “to elect a president immediately.”

In a statement at the conclusion of their 55th annual general assembly Nov. 7-11, the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon warned that “without a president, the state will plunge into total paralysis.”

The six-year mandate of former President Michel Aoun expired Oct. 31.

Lebanon’s parliament has convened five times since the start of the electoral period at the end of August to try to elect a new president, but without success due to the lack of consensus among political parties. Another session was scheduled for Nov. 17.

Under Lebanon’s power-sharing system, its president is a Maronite Catholic, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim.

“There is no priority that is higher than ... electing a president, and we call on MPs to elect a president immediately,” the patriarchs and bishops said in their statement.

“Without a president, there can be no protection of the constitution, no supervision over the regularity of the work of state institutions, no separation of powers and no exit from the political, economic and financial paralysis,” the prelates said.

“Without a president, the state will plunge into total paralysis.” 

Lebanon is in the midst of a three-year economic meltdown that has propelled nearly 80 per cent of the population into poverty in what was considered a middle-class country. The currency has devalued by more than 90 per cent, inflation has reached triple digits, unemployment has skyrocketed and banks have imposed restrictions on their customer’s deposits.

Citing “the economic, social and living deprivation” that has brought most of the Lebanese “to a state of poverty and destitution,” the prelates said they would help the people by providing “all possible assistance.”

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