01/23/2020, 10.09
LEBANON
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Maronite Patriarch calls on protesters to give new government a 'chance'

Cardinal addresses citizens, inviting them not to oppose "an outright rejection" to new cabinet but give them time to "put a rescue program in place". Violence and destruction, he adds, "must end". Yesterday, new demonstrations and more clashes in the center of Beirut, at least 10 injured. President Aoun calls on the executive to "conquer the confidence of the Lebanese".

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Maronite patriarch, Card Beshara Raï, has launched an appeal to the country asking people to "give the new executive a chance".

The government unveiled yesterday by Prime Minister Hassan Diab, is already being targeted by protesters even before taking office. In the afternoon and late yesterday evening new clashes took place between anti-government demonstrators and law enforcement officers in central Beirut.

"This evening - underlined the cardinal - I turn to the Lebanese people to tell them not to be gripped by doubt and refusal a priori, and to give the government a chance to put into practice a rescue program and a work plan" . At mass celebrated yesterday at the patriarchal see in Bkerké, the Maronite primate added that "unrest, damage to public and private property, tire fires and roadblocks must not take place during this period".

Also yesterday, Card Raï talked on the phone with the new Prime Minister Diab. In the context of the conversation, he delivered the good wishes of the Maronite community, while at the same time addressing the concerns and fears for the future of the country.

In the meantime, new clashes between police and demonstrators have taken place in the capital since the afternoon. Security forces launched tear gas and used water cannons to repel a group of people intent on uprooting trees, throwing stones and firecrackers, dismantling the security barriers placed around Nejmeh square. The demonstrators also set fire to a security forces tent and smashed the windows of some shops.

According to initial information, at least 10 people were injured in yesterday's clashes that lasted several hours.

"We want a government of experts [...] who do they think they are making fun of?" Shouted a protester named Fadi Zakour. "We have been demonstrating for 90 days and we are certainly not happy to close the roads."

The announcement of the new executive arrived late in the evening of January 21, three months after the resignation of the previous one led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri overwhelmed by the street protests of angry citizens demanding economic reforms and a real fight against corruption. A new team, however, which remains tied to parties and factions, while the population asked for "independent experts" capable of facing "the worst crisis" since the end of the civil war (1975-90).

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon, the first meeting of the newborn government was held at the Baabda palace, under the leadership of President Michel Aoun. During the meeting, the Prime Minister admitted that the country must face and resolve "a financial, economic and social impasse" and promises to respond to citizens' legitimate requests. "We are facing a catastrophe - said Diab - and it is our job to alleviate the impact and repercussions of this catastrophe on the Lebanese." It is our task, he added, to "ensure stability".

In his speech at the beginning of the government summit, the head of state asked the prime minister and new ministers to "win the confidence of the Lebanese and work to achieve the goals they aspire to". "It is necessary - concluded Aoun - to work to restore the international community's trust in the Lebanese institutions and reassure the people about their future".

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