LEBANON: Syriac Maronite Patriarch al-Raï meets outgoing MPs, Naemet Ephrem calls for early elections

BKERKÉ, Lebanon – Syriac Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Raï yesterday met in Bkerké outgoing lawmakers of the Syriac Maronite Kataeb Party. The Kataeb delegation included its three outgoing MPs and party leader Samy Gemayel, Nadim Gemayel, and Elias Hanaksh. The Syriac Maronite Kataeb Party (Phalange) together with Saad Hariri’s Future Movement, and Samir GeaGea’s Lebanese Forces is a member of the March 14 Alliance.

Kataeb holds three seats in Lebanese parliament but its MPs resigned their seats after the 4 August Beirut port explosion. Kataeb’s Secretary-General Nazar Najarian was killed in the port explosion. The Kataeb Party strongly opposes the Hezbollah-backed government and strongly criticizes the only heavily armed non-state since the 1975-90 civil war.

Syriac Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Raï also met with outgoing Independent MPs Neamat Ephrem, Michel Moawad (Independence Movement / March 14 Alliance), Armenian MP Paula Yacoubian, and Henri Helou. Outgoing MP Yacoubian stated after the meeting with the Patriarch:

“Lebanon’s neutrality is the life of Lebanon. We discussed this issue with Patriarch al-Raï the shepherd, and we asked him to continue his positions by de-legitimizing this ruling clique and continuing to stand by its people.”

After the lengthy meeting Naemat Ephrem stated:

“We discussed as Independents and resigned MPs the road map towards a new Lebanon. This road map must be in line with the aspirations of the Lebanese people, our aspirations and of all those seeking change, while being careful to keep the flame of hope lit.” He added, “What is required is early elections because only early elections can make us hear the true voice of the people and restore lost credibility between the Lebanese people and political leaders. We have discussed this with the Patriarch. I am careful not to transmit the position of Bkerké because this will develop and emerge in the near future.”

Naemat Ephrem referred to the resignation of designate PM Mustapha Diab and the failure to adopt the French initiative;

“The Patriarch will hold subsequent meetings and is keen to keep hope high and work to prevent the emigration of our citizens. We are children of hope and work for the clarification of the road map towards a new Lebanon.”