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LEBANON

Naim Qassem: 'We want a president who resembles Lebanon'

Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai again Sunday expressed disappointment over the Lebanese authorities' failure to elect a president. 

Naim Qassem: 'We want a president who resembles Lebanon'

Deputy secretary-general of Hezbollah, Naim Qassem. (Credit: NNA)

BEIRUT—"We want a president who resembles Lebanon and we call for dialogue to achieve the presidential election," said Naim Qassem, deputy secretary-general of Hezbollah, late Saturday.

Speaking at a commissioning ceremony held by the Islamic Religious Education Association in Beirut, Qassem added: "We have always called for dialogue in order to get out of the impasse, knowing that a dead end does not lead to elections."

"But, they said 'No! This means that you do not want to elect a president except one who resembles you.' We want a president who resembles Lebanon, and we are present and open to every discussion on a national basis and not on a sectarian basis, and we invite you to dialogue in order to achieve this," Qassem continued.

Meanwhile, during his Sunday sermon, Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai expressed disappointment over Lebanese authorities' failure thus far to elect a president. 

More than a year and a half after the end of Michel Aoun's six-year term, Bkirki continues to advocate for the election of a president of the republic in Lebanon.

On Saturday, Rai, and Grand Mufti Abdel-Latif Derian called on members of Parliament to engage in dialogue in order to break the presidential election deadlock, while many observers believe that the political impasse is set to continue, with no prospect of a resolution until the situation in Gaza and southern Lebanon has been resolved.

Several months ago, the National Moderation bloc (comprised of Sunni MPs formerly aligned with Saad Hariri's Future Movement) launched an initiative aimed at bringing the protagonists together for a consultation session in Parliament to resolve the political crisis. The invitation was rejected by Hezbollah and Amal, which believes that only the speaker of Parliament has the authority to convene and chair talks between the parliamentary groups. Hezbollah and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal Movement are backing the candidacy of Marada leader Sleiman Frangieh for the presidency, while the opposition groups, joined by the Free Patriotic Movement (normally allied with Hezbollah) are in favor of the candidacy of former Finance Minister and International Monetary Fund executive Jihad Azour.

Meanwhile, the Jaafarite mufti, Ahmad Kabalan, who is reputedly close to Hezbollah, said on Sunday in a statement addressed to Lebanese political forces that it is "necessary to have an urgent presidential dialogue that takes into account the sovereign data of the country."

"What we need is a sense of national family that cares only about the interests of Lebanon," Kabalan added. "What Lebanon gains on the southern front will not be lost in a presidential arrangement or in harmful dealings with the other side of the border [Israel]. he said, emphasizing his desire to take Christian national interests into consideration. 

For his part, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut Elias Audi expressed concern over the "suspicious delay in electing a president" and denounced "the inability of the authorities to seriously seek a solution to the many problems that plague the lives of the Lebanese. … Parliamentarians have a historic responsibility to apply the constitution unequivocally and to elect a president as soon as possible so that the institutions can resume regular and productive work based on honesty, sincerity and the search for the common good," he said during his Sunday homily.

BEIRUT—"We want a president who resembles Lebanon and we call for dialogue to achieve the presidential election," said Naim Qassem, deputy secretary-general of Hezbollah, late Saturday.Speaking at a commissioning ceremony held by the Islamic Religious Education Association in Beirut, Qassem added: "We have always called for dialogue in order to get out of the impasse, knowing that a dead end...