Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai declared that any authority that does not uphold and respect the founding principles of the Lebanese state, including coexistence, equality, public freedoms and respect of the constitution, is illegitimate.

Speaking on the occasion of Annunciation Day on Wednesday, Rai denounced “the torpedoing of the Constitution for personal ends, as is the case with the presidential elections.”

He lamented the fact that the presidential deadline “is being hijacked for personal and sectarian considerations, without taking into account the disintegration of the state and the rampant poverty.”

“The Lebanese society is in a state of division, conflict, hostilities, and lack of trust, due to the hegemony of some, and their obstruction of the provisions of the Constitution to serve their own interests,” Rai added.

He denounced practices that run counter to Article 9 of the Constitution, which guarantees respect and free exercise of all religions and confessions, provided that they do not undermine public order, stressing the separation of religion and state under the Constitution.

Still referring to the Constitution, Rai said it guarantees “cultural and religious pluralism” in line with the 1943 National Pact, which was upheld by the Taif Accords in 1989 and introduced into the Constitution in 1990, stressing that “any authority that contradicts this pact is not legitimate.”