Maronite patriarch: Government changes would hurt Lebanese Christians

Proposed tripartite power-sharing formula would give equal power to Sunni Muslims, Shi'ite Muslims and Christians.

November 2, 2014 14:16
1 minute read.
Beshara al-Rai

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai visits the Latrun Monastery.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Only a Christian president can maintain the current power balance between Lebanon’s Muslims and Christians, Lebanese Christian leader Beshara Rai said on Sunday, . Further dividing power between the country's Muslims and Christians would be detrimental to the nation, he added.

The Lebanese Maronite Patriarch’s warning was an attempt to deter the government from adjusting the country’s current power- sharing model. Lebanon is scheduled to partake in presidential elections on November 19.

Lebanon held initial presidential elections in April 2013 but no candidate reached the required two-thirds majority. Since then, the country has undergone 14 additional rounds of voting, yet still failed to reach a quorum. The 15th scheduled round of voting will precede annual general parliamentary elections.

According to Rai, the government’s failure to elect a Christian president through this ongoing election process, further endangers the country’s diminishing Christian population. 

Rai argued that only a Christian leader could “ensure Islamic-Christian coexistence in Lebanon and maintain the Lebanese [power-sharing] formula that distinguishes Lebanon as a model in its Arab environment.”

The proposed tripartite power-sharing governance formula, would give equal powers to Lebanese Sunni Muslims, Shi'ite Muslims and Christians. This new formula would replace the current bipartite power-sharing formula, which equally splits ruling power between Muslims and Christians.

By reconsidering the ruling formula, the Lebanese Christian leader believes that the current MPs would be completely “reconsidering Lebanon as an entity." 

Lebanon was originally founded in 1926 as a Christian nation, the only Christian nation in the Middle East. Eighty-four percent of the country's population was Christian at the time of its founding. Although there have been no official census since 1932, official estimates claim that Christians only make up 41% of Lebanon’s population in 2014, with Muslims making up 54% of the country’s population.

Although there are more Muslims that Christians living in Lebanon, the Lebanese Constitution as well as the Nation Pact, both guarantee equal rights and representation for Muslims and Christians in Lebanon.

Rai urged the Lebanese government to respect these founding documents through all forthcoming changes.

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