BETH KERKE (BKERKI) – Syriac Maronite Patriarch Mor Béchara Boutros Raï has said that the withdrawal by prominent Sunni politician Saad Hariri, leader of the Future Movement party, from political life and his call to his party to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections in May, should not be used as an excuse to call for postponing the elections. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s decision to step aside has turned the electoral landscape upside down, further adding to the uncertainty in a country suffering from a devastating financial collapse.
Patriarch Mor Béchara Boutros Raï commented on former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s decision, announced last week, which could affect the elections and Lebanon’s already fragile political situation. Mor Béchara said that he was surprised by Hariri stepping aside from political life and his boycott of the elections. He expressed his hope that the Sunni component would continue to participate in the elections, so that the elections would include the position and political will of all Lebanese.
The Patriarch added that, given the great importance and voice of parliament, all Lebanese must face any cunning attempts to circumvent parliament in order for a lawfully elected parliament to choose a new president of the republic (the President in Lebanon is by agreement a Syriac Christian).
Meanwhile, Bahaa Hariri, Saad’s older brother, has indicated over the weekend that he will become active in political life and would continue the path of his father, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who was killed in a car bomb in 2005, indicating that he would support the Sunni candidates but would not run himself.
Saad Hariri’s Future Movement holds 20 seats in Lebanon’s parliament, where it heads the March 14 Alliance. In this Alliance Hariri is joined by the Syriac Maronite Lebanese Forces and the Druze Progressive Socialist Party. The expectations for this year’s parliamentary elections in May are that the party will lose seats. Iran’s long arm in Lebanon, Hezbollah, now holds a parliamentary majority along with its partner, the Syriac Maronite Free Patriotic Movement of President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law Gebran Bassil.