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LEBANON

Maronite bishops call for swift election of a president, government formation

Maronite bishops call for swift election of a president, government formation

Maronite bishops during their monthly meeting in Bkerke. (Credit: NNA)

As the end of President Michael Aoun's term approaches — and with it, the threat of a double executive vacancy — Maronite bishops pleaded Wednesday for the swift election of a new president and formation of a government.

In a statement issued Wednesday following their monthly meeting in Bkirki, the bishops — led by Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai  — "called on MPs, including the head of Parliament, Nabih Berri, to accelerate the election of a Head of State within the constitutional timeframe ... [One] who is able to strengthen the unity of the population and revive the institutions of the state." 

Aoun's term is set to expire Oct. 31. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and his cabinet have been managing governmental affairs since May 2022.

Parliament held the first round of presidential elections on Sept. 29, but no candidate obtained the minimum number of required votes and the session was later adjourned for lack of quorum. Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri did not set a date for the second round of elections, but indicated in the press earlier this week that he would call MPs to a new session before mid-October.

The Maronite bishops also called for a new cabinet, "because it is unacceptable that a [Prime Minister] is appointed without forming [a government], even though there is not much time left before the end of President Aoun's term of office." 

In this context, the bishops "hoped that the process of forming a government would be facilitated and that this deadline would not be used for political purposes." They also pleaded that "no party should have a hand in the next government," in what seemed to be an allusion to Hezbollah, the Shiite party that dominates Lebanese political life and is often criticized by Patriarch Rai.

The bishops then called on the Mikati and the Aoun to "cooperate" in forming the government.

The caretaker prime minister and president have sparred over the government's formation for months. Negotiations seem to have stalled again because of their respective demands regarding the next cabinet.



As the end of President Michael Aoun's term approaches — and with it, the threat of a double executive vacancy — Maronite bishops pleaded Wednesday for the swift election of a new president and formation of a government.In a statement issued Wednesday following their monthly meeting in Bkirki, the bishops — led by Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai  —...