Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, appealed for a Lebanese and international surveillance of the electoral process starting today.

Speaking in his religious sermon as he presided over Sunday Mass at the “Church of Our Lady” in Bkirki this morning, the Patriarch said: “While the people and friends of Lebanon want a better future for the country, we are keen on holding the parliamentary elections at their constitutional dates, so that changing the dates, amending the existing law, and circumventing the participation of expatriates do not become excuses that threaten the holding of elections against the will of the people and the international community.”

He added that “tampering with the issue of elections this time would lead to risks of unknown repercussions…The people want the elections as an opportunity to change their painful reality, and a starting point for a new national life. The people want transparent and fair elections, far from political money that bets on people’s poverty to buy their votes and conscience. Therefore, we call, from now, for Lebanese and international monitoring of the electoral process.”

Over the new government’s mission, the Patriarch said: “We are counting on the current government, especially on its head, who assured us, in his honorable visit yesterday, of his determination to work to overcome the many obstacles that would confront his cabinet, and to embark on the reform workshop immediately, without which there is no success, aid, or Arab and international solidarity.”

However, al-Rahi reminded that “as much as Lebanon, in its tremendous crises, needs the help of its friends and international monetary institutions, the state must preserve the country’s independence, sovereignty, and normal relations, so that some in-kind aid is not a cover for dominating Lebanon and undermining its identity and peaceful role in this East.”

He added: “Lebanon’s interest requires that it respects its commitments, and that reform and reconstruction remain within a unified national framework. We hope that the government will be the watchful eye on Lebanon’s interest, and the one that utters the bold truth.”

The Patriarch also urged the government to accord the youth of Lebanon all attention and care, “for the fate of Lebanon depends on the fate of its youth, and there is no salvation without securing a prosperous future for the youth on the land of their fathers and grandfathers, so that they renew their national and spiritual heritage.”

“In this extremely difficult and threatening circumstance for the entity and for Lebanon’s international standing, and for emptying it of its best lively forces, all officials and workers in the field of politics must join forces to save Lebanon,” al-Rahi underscored.

“Our national dignity requires all of us to preserve Lebanon’s reputation, its value, its historical role and its importance in the Middle East, thanks to its pluralistic, coexisting democratic system, and its location on the shore of the Mediterranean. We call on social media to highlight the positive facets of Lebanon and its constructive society, putting aside negative matters and refraining from betting on differences,” he emphasized.

“We pray to the Lord Almighty to awaken in all of us the spirit of responsibility and to practice it with honesty and wisdom,” the Patriarch concluded.

Source: National News Agency