Lebanon’s Cardinal Rai warns of coup against parliamentary election results

File photo of Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai in a Sunday sermon.

Lebanon’s Cardinal, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai warned Sunday of a coup against the results of the May 15 parliamentary vote, cautioning that some parties might use the security and economic turmoil in the country to control the upcoming election of a Speaker and President.

Presiding over Sunday mass in Bkirki, Rai said the parliamentary elections gave new hopes to the people on possible change in the country that would encourage the international community to help Lebanon seriously, not symbolically, to get out of its economic crisis.

However, the cardinal expressed concern over the return of the fuel crisis, the lack of medicine and bread, the rising commodity prices and the manipulation of the dollar peg.

“Wasn’t the opposite supposed to happen?” Rai asked.

He said this suspicious development in the aftermath of the elections confirms once again that certain parties want to disrupt the new reality imposed by the polls and the movement for political change.

Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies have lost their majority in Lebanon’s parliament in the general election. The Shiite party’s opponents including the Christian Lebanese Forces gained ground.

“The significance of the forces winning the majority is not in the number of their representatives, but in their ability to form homogeneous, united and multi-sectarian parliamentary blocs that respect the principles of sovereignty, independence, neutrality and decentralization,” the Patriarch said.

As of May 22, after the current assembly’s mandate expires, the new lawmakers will have 15 days to pick a speaker, a position Nabih Berri has held since 1992 and is not intent on leaving despite reaching the age of 84.

The Patriarch said electing a new parliament is the beginning of a crucial stage on which Lebanon’s future and the shape of the Lebanese state depend.

He added that Lebanon will have to face important stages that begin with the election of a Speaker, the formation of a national government and the election of a new President.

Therefore, Rahi said that winning the parliamentary elections is not the end of the struggle, rather its beginning.

“We call on all citizens, especially those who believe in positive change, national sovereignty, the unity of arms, neutrality, and decentralization, to be vigilant and ready to confront the attempts to sidestep the popular will,” the Patriarch stressed.