Patriarch Raï and Hariri Beirut meet on government and economic crisis

The cardinal invited the interim premier to re-launch institutional dialogue. The request for a new team of ministers and for consultations between the parties in a spirit of "unity and sincerity". But the rift between Hariri and President Aoun remains. The Feast of the Annunciation is an opportunity to strengthen the dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Card. Beshara Raï welcomed the prime minister in charge, Saad Hariri, to the patriarchal seat of Bkerké last night, in an attempt to unblock a political and institutional impasse that has long paralyzed Lebanese politics and risks wrecking the country.

The focus of the talks was the controversial formation of the new executive, which opened a further front of confrontation between the premier (exponent of the Sunni wing and close to Riyadh) and the Christian Maronite president Michel Aoun, linked to Hezbollah, a Shiite faction that refers in Tehran.

Hariri was accompanied by former minister Ghattas Khoury. In addition to the cardinal, there was also the former minister Sajaan Azzi, in a sort of enlarged summit. At the end of the meeting, the prime minister in charge explained that he had "accepted the patriarch's invitation to dinner" during which "we discussed what is happening around the formation of the new executive".

“You know that visiting his Beatitude is important to me, because I am keen to listen to his point of view, especially in these difficult days. Hopefully we will continue the talks after dinner,” Hariri told reporters.". The cardinal renewed the invitation, already launched several times in the past, to unblock and negotiate for the formation of a government "which the country is in dire need of, in a time of economic crisis that has pushed many Lebanese to poverty".

Yesterday was the Feast of the Annunciation, a national holiday since 2010 uniting Christians and Muslims. It also marked the 10th anniversary of Card. Raï’s appointment as Patriarch which he used to appeal to Aoun and Hariri to resume negotiations.

His words were echoed by the US ambassador Dorothy Shea, who in yesterday's meeting with the Lebanese president underlined the "urgency" of a stable executive, the result of a "compromise between the political forces that, to date, block this process”.

Returning to the meeting between Hariri and the Maronite patriarch, the latter asked the prime minister in charge to submit a new government team to the President of the Republic and re-launched the request for consultation between the parties in a spirit of "unity and sincerity". The goal is to arrive at shared names and an equitable distribution of portfolios "respecting the Constitution and the National Pact of 1943".

Yesterday afternoon, Card. Raï presided over the solemn Eucharistic celebration for the Feast of the Annunciation. During the homily, the cardinal, as he often does at masses, returned to the political and institutional crisis by renewing the appeal to "active neutrality", to safeguard the Land of Ceders from regional tensions and to hold an international conference on Lebanon under the auspices of the United Nations.

“The political crisis and its economic and social repercussions - he said - are getting worse and worse. We would never have imagined that Lebanon, the lighthouse of the East, would have experienced such a level of decline "and that all" decisions and prerogatives of power "would have been" delegitimized".

The cardinal, who has made the element of neutrality his battle horse, called with renewed insistence - albeit without making it explicit – for the disarmament of the pro-Iranian Shia Hezbollah movement and the holding of the international UN conference.

“Lebanon as a civil state - concluded the cardinal - is for everyone, Christians and Muslims. Its conservation is a collective responsibility in which all the Lebanese components participate, a sign of our absolute belief in the unity, identity and role of Lebanon in the East and in the world ".