Cleric slams Lahoud re-election bid

Lebanon's top Christian cleric has denounced a constitutional amendment, which would see the Syrian-backed president through for another three years.

    Patriarch Sfeir (L) is a vocal critic of Syria's influence in Lebanon

    Maronite Patriarch Nasr Allah Sfeir, a vocal critic of Syria's influence in Lebanon, opposes President Emile Lahud's intention to remain in office after his term ends in November.


    The Lebanese constitution currently does not allow for term extension.

    However, a hastily convened cabinet requested such a constitutional change to extend Lahud's term by three years on Saturday, despite opposition from the prime minister and prominent politicians, including some traditional allies of powerful neighbour Syria. 

    "What happened yesterday regarding the constitution and the presidency is unfamiliar, plotted by night and carried out swiftly by day," Sfeir said on Sunday during mass at the church's seat in the mountains of northern Lebanon. 

    Calling for God's help

    "Those directly involved were seized to express a view imposed on them, and obeyed submissively," he said. "I call on all to be aware...and for God to help Lebanon and the Lebanese." 

    "What happened yesterday regarding the constitution and the presidency is unfamiliar, plotted by night and carried out swiftly by day"

    Nasr Allah Sfeir,
    Lebanon's Maronite Patriarch

    Syria flooded Lebanon with troops during the 1975-1990 civil war, later affirming its grip through broad influence in the presidency, military and security services. 

    But Sfeir's objections have been echoed by politicians closer to Damascus, including Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, whose allies in the cabinet rejected the plan. 

    The US State Department said last week the presidency should be a Lebanese choice rather than a Syrian one, and determined according to Lebanon's constitution, a position repeated by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Damascus. 

    Washington is pressuring Syria to cut support for Lebanon's Hizb Allah and pull its troops out of the country. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.