12/07/2016, 09.05
LEBANON
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Patriarch Rai: A government by Christmas, as a gift to revive country's future

The Maronite leader urges political forces to reach an agreement, as was the case for the election of the president. The common consensus and reconciliation between Maronites and Sunnis will be complete "with the formation of a new government." But there are internal divisions and power struggles. And the "obstacles" of a "regional dimension" working to "weaken" the mandate of Aoun.

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An invitation to the Lebanese political parties to reach an agreement leading to the formation of the government by Christmas, as a "gift" to the entire population and to boost the future path of the country. This is the wish expressed yesterday by the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Rai, who requested a further effort from Parliament and the country's political class, to reach a compromise for the formation of the new government, following the appointment of President Michel Aoun.

In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the cardinal said that "Lebanon has overcome a difficult period" with the election of the head of state, a position vacant for over two and a half years. Now, he adds, "we hope that the government will be formed before Christmas, as a gift" for everyone.

The head of the Maronite Church recalled that the election of Aoun took place through "an agreement that we did not think even to imagine"; a compromise which is the result of a joint commitment of the Lebanese Forces and the Sunnis, and that "led to the appointment of the general."

This was achieved thanks to the "national consensus", the "reconciliation between Maronites and Sunnis." I hope that this process, the Cardinal added, "will be completed with the formation of a new government."

The recent election of Aoun as head of state and the mandate given to former premier Saad Hariri to form the new Government  has renewed hope for the future of the country. There are many challenges facing the new leadership, from a sluggish economy to the millions of refugees who have arrived in recent years from Syria. These are serious and long-standing problems, which an often moribund political class overly focused on personal interests has not been able so far to respond adequately.

However, the formation process could last months, especially with regard to the key positions of power such as the Ministry of the Interior, of Defense and Energy, of Finance, and Public Works and Telecommunications.

The Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, who is leading the negotiations on behalf of the March 8 Alliance, supported by the Hezbollah Shiite militia, aims to take Finance and Public Works. He also warns that the Marada Movement - the Christian Democratic group led by the Maronite and former president Suleiman Franjieh - must be assigned a key ministry.

Political and parliamentary sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, also refer to "obstacles" that prevent the Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri from forming a government. These obstacles would have a "regional dimension" [the conflicting interests of Iran and Saudi Arabia,- ed] that aims to "weaken" the work of President Michel Aoun in this early period of his mandate.

 

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