Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi declared on Sunday his objection to the appointment of a new commander of the army amid the vacuum in the presidency.
Lebanon has been without a president since November 2022 after the term of Michel Aoun ended with political blocs bickering over a successor.
Army commander Joseph Aoun is expected to retire in January, leaving the top military post vacant. Officials have been debating appointing a successor.
Under normal circumstances, the government would be tasked with appointing a new army commander. Given the presidential vacuum, it is now operating in a caretaker capacity, which bars it from making state appointments.
During his Sunday sermon, Rahi warned that attempts to name a new commander would undermine the unity of the military and trust in its leadership.
He therefore called on politicians to elect a president as soon as possible.
This is the “easiest” way to resolve “all political problems” and restore normal functioning at state institutions, he remarked.
He called on officials to “abandon their narrow, personal and sectarian interests,” and to prioritize the needs of the people.
This will help safeguard Lebanon’s unity, diversity and coexistence between Muslims and Christians, he stressed.
The Free Patriotic Movement has been pushing for the appointment of a new army commander, while its rival Lebanese Forces has been seeking the extension of the current commander’s term.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, the Progressive Socialist Party and Sunni lawmakers have proposed delaying Joseph Aoun’s release from service and the appointment of a presidential council.