Lebanon marks 75th anniversary of Independence. Patriarch calls for a new government

Card Beshara al-Rahi called for action to overcome the "painful" and divisive circumstances that prevent the formation of a new government. He urged leaders to take care of the "beloved homeland", enhance its role and preserve beauty. President Aoun said the country cannot waste time and must put in place crucial economic and tax reforms.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Lebanon "cannot die or fall" because it can count on the protection "of martyrs and saints" from its history and past; however, the country must overcome "painful circumstances" as soon as possible, said Card Beshara l-Rahi on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Independence, 22 November.

For the Maronite Patriarch, those who have prevented the formation of a government "must become aware" of how important it is for his future.

Since last May in fact, Lebanon has been without a strong, united government, able to deal with the many threats and challenges that stalk the country: economy, emigration, growing poverty and youth unemployment.

The Lebanese Church has long warned about the seriousness of the situation, which has been exacerbated by the war in neighbouring Syria and the unprecedented humanitarian emergency triggered by it.

Forming a government has been held back by domestic as well as foreign power struggles, including regional players like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The demand by six pro-Syrian Sunni MPs, backed by Hezbollah, for a cabinet post, has run up against the firm refusal of prime minister-designate Saad Hariri who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the Lebanese Shia party.

"We must put a positive turn to a negative reality", said the Maronite Patriarch who hopes that "the Lord will inspire leaders to overcome obstacles" so that "Lebanon may return to a normal life".

In thanking Lebanese president Michel Aoun, the prime minister and the country’s top political and religious leaders, the cardinal added that "it is our duty" to take care "of our beloved homeland" appreciate "its value, importance and role" and preserve its "beauty and the uniqueness and unity of its people."

Meanwhile, Independence was celebrated with various events, meetings and open-air gatherings. President Aoun, Prime Minister Hariri and Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri l, representing the country’s three main confessions, Christian-Maronite, Sunni and Shia, led the official celebrations.

The president laid a wreath at the bottom of the monument of the Unknown Soldier. Addressing the crowd, Aoun noted that the country can no longer afford to be without a functioning government because of mounting political, social and economic challenges.

Indeed, one of the challenges the new government will face is tax reform, which is crucial for the country's future. Lebanon, the president said, cannot waste time. Growth must be a priority to ensure a future for its citizens, and personal selfishness should be put aside.