BKIRKI: Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir lashed out on Thursday at some MPs refusal to perform their duty of electing of a new head of state, adding that this plunged Lebanon "deeper into political crisis." "This is due either to foreign or internal influences" Sfeir said after meeting with a delegation from the Journalists Union in Bkirki. "There is no way to find a solution but through being loyal to Lebanon first, and electing a president in accordance with the Constitution," he added. Sfeir said that during the first round of the presidential election, the two-thirds quorum should be used, but if in the second round there are two-thirds or a simple-majority of votes available, then the elections could be held.

"If two-thirds of votes are not ready, but there is a simple majority, the opposition can say that the Constitution was not respected and could elect a second president, in which case, we would end up with two presidents, which is something the Lebanese and non-Lebanese do not accept," Sfeir said.  He added he had discussed the electoral law and electoral constituencies in Beirut with leader of the parliamentary majority MP Saad Hariri "in vague terms, not in detail," during the latter’s visit to the prelate  "Bkirki is not taking sides with anyone. We have our own path that we follow, and this path serves the interests of the church and Lebanon," Sfeir said.  "Without a president, the country cannot be revived, and the government cannot replace the president," he said, adding that all politicians are responsible for the presidential vacuum.  "The issue of me potentially visiting Syria has not yet been raised. I haven’t been invited and probably will not be," he added.

In a rare televised interview on Tuesday, the Maronite Patriarch said the presidential election path was paved with bad intentions, stressing that choosing a new head of state was inevitable since dialogue has proved to be unsuccessful.

"Some Lebanese seek to achieve personal goals … at Lebanon’s expense. It seems that they don’t want to elect a president on time," Sfeir told LBC’s Bikul Juraa talk show.

MPs should go to Parliament to elect a President," Sfeir stressed. "Responsibility falls on all MPs."

Sfeir expressed fear that a Parliament session scheduled for May 13 "will see a fate similar to that of previous sessions," adding that he hoped the crisis would be solved peacefully.

"They tried dialogue in Parliament and outside Parliament in the past and it was fruitless and did not bring anything new," Sfeir said. "I can see no end to the [political] crisis except for the election of a president above all, to be followed by formation of a government and then parliamentary elections."

He stressed that the president has "views" about the make up of a new Cabinet and "one should not impose his opinion on him."

Sfeir stressed that Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite church, was not biased and that bishops were united despite differences in opinion. "Bkirki is not against anyone. Sometimes it is with one party and sometimes it is with the other. But it is always working for the welfare of Lebanon," Sfeir said.

"We try to be on the right track. But some people see right as wrong," he continued.

Sfeir accused Lebanon’s neighbors of having "aspirations" in the country, saying Lebanon has no control over itself.

He took issue with Hizbullah, without mentioning it by name, saying that the existence of a parallel state was a "bizarre" scenario.  "There should be no two-state rule for Lebanon."

He said that if the Lebanese cannot run their own country, "then we ought to seek the help of the United Nations."

"The situation is deteriorating day after day. There are reports that about one million Lebanese have fled the country and unemployment rates are rising," Sfeir said.