02/06/2020, 17.19
LEBANON
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Maronite bishops 'satisfied' with the government policy statement. Bishop Aoun is cautiously optimistic

The new cabinet “unanimously” adopts a policy statement that now goes to parliament for a confidence vote next week. Maronite bishops call for an end to internal divisions because the county’s fate “is at stake". Bishop of Jbeil-Byblos notes that protests played a crucial role in influencing the government and politicians.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – At the end of their monthly meeting yesterday in Bkerké, Lebanon’s Maronite bishops welcomed the promises made by the new Lebanese government in its policy statement approved "unanimously" by cabinet today.

In the document, the cabinet acknowledges the legitimate demands of the Lebanese people and the needs for reform as laid out at the donor conference held in Paris in April 2018. Now the plan will go before parliament for a vote of confidence.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Bishop Michel Aoun of Jbeil-Byblos of the Maronites, said that "the protests of the past few months have been an important influence on both government and political leaders.

Political parties and leaders at present "know that if things don’t get better, if grassroots demands are not met, the protests will start again” with greater intensity.

The prelate is optimistic about the future, even if “economic problems remain”. Much will now depend on the steps taken by the new government, which includes “capable and experienced people".

At the same time, “we are waiting for the confidence vote in parliament” and “help from the international community, especially the West.”

In their statement released yesterday, the Maronite bishops speak to the country’s various political factions, asking them to end internal conflicts and divisions that undermine the social fabric.

In this historical phase, "Lebanon’s fate of Lebanon and that of the national pact" is at stake in a context of serious financial and economic crises , exacerbated by the refugee emergency, the most serious in the country’s history.

“Everyone knows that Lebanon is going through an exceptional and very serious moment. Its fate is at stake, as are the principles and values ​​on which the [national] pact of living together and political arrangement are based.” At this point in time, they warn, "total solidarity" is needed to "save" the nation.

The plea of the Maronite bishops to politicians, business leaders, intellectuals, lawyers includes a call for “an end to rows and violence [. . .] which do nothing but aggravate tensions and raise doubts in the people.”

What is needed is a “new way of thinking" and a “new approach" to "restore the people’s trust" and "make it clear that the country" has entered a new phase of “renewal”.

The bishops warn against corruption, “which has been spreading for decades,” urging political leaders “not meddle with the justice system”.

They also turn their attention to the “deal of the century", the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan proposed by US President Donald Trump, which in their view can only aggravate tensions in the region and fuel extremism.

This morning Prime Minister designate Hassan Diab "unanimously" approved the policy statement during a cabinet meeting at Baabda Presidential Palace.

The plan calls for painful steps to implement an economic rescue plan. It also includes judicial and legislative reforms, anti-corruption measures, budget restructurings, greater productivity and improved welfare provisions for the weaker elements of society.

Investments are also planned in infrastructure, based on the guidelines set at the Paris conference of 2018.

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