Patriarch Raï asks Hariri to 'take initiative' for a government or step aside
by Fady Noun

The cardinal attacks the "deadly" stalemate and the politicians who have "emptied" the Constitution. The prime minister in charge must show "courage" and agree on a new executive. If not, he should step aside and favour "a new process". The condemnation of the Nahr el-Kalb incidents.


Beirut (AsiaNews) - The day after the parliamentary debate on the message addressed by the head of state to Parliament, the Maronite Patriarch Beshara Raï yesterday launched an appeal to the Prime Minister in charge Saad Hariri, asking him to "take the initiative".

According to the cardinal, he should present himself for the last time in the presence of President Michel Aoun to provide him with an "updated version" of the government he intends to form and, in the event of a stalemate, show "courage" to "allow the start of a new formation process ".

“Yesterday, from Parliament, we expected nothing else [...] We must work to form a government as soon as possible, because the dangerous situation in Lebanon does not allow for further delays. Everything that undermines trust, hinders the process and undermines the national interest must be avoided ", underlined the head of the Maronite Church during the homily at Pentecost Mass.

"Apologies - he continued - are no longer of any use and no longer convince anyone". The pretexts justifying the government blockade “no longer hold up. This stalemate is deadly for the state and citizens; it must end. Political leaders have exploited the Constitution in every aspect, emptying it. What Constitution authorizes such a blockade in the formation of a government? And what prerogatives make it possible to suspend the functioning of public institutions? ".

"We ask the prime minister-designate directly to take the initiative - yes to take the initiative - in order to present an updated version (of the government) to the President of the Republic as quickly as possible. And with him - said the Maronite primate - he will have to agree on the structure, portfolios and names, it being understood that it will be a government of non-party experts and that its members will not be under the hegemony of any party ".

"If they fail to agree, let them face the consequences - added the head of the Maronite Church - and have the courage to allow a new process of formation to take place" alluding, albeit in a veiled way, to the possible appointment of a new prime minister in charge in place of Saad Hariri.

The incidents of Nahr el-Kalb

At the same time, the Maronite patriarch commented on the attacks on 20 May by supporters of the Lebanese forces on refugee buses decorated with the effigy of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian flags. They were on their way to their embassy in Yarzé to vote in the presidential elections in Syria on May 26.

“We are sorry - said the patriarch - for the clashes that took place along the Nahr el-Kalb (Kesrouan) highway between some Lebanese and Syrian refugees who went to the polls. Here the provocations against Lebanese sentiments are at stake in a region that has many martyrs who died fighting against the Syrian army, together with the issue of Lebanese prisoners in Syrian prisons whose fate remains unknown today ".


Underlining that the Syrian people "were welcomed in Lebanon with generosity", the head of the Maronite Church estimated that "the return home of over one and a half million Syrian refugees" cannot wait for a political solution "to the conflict that devastates the Syria since 2011 ".

Distancing himself from "every hostile spirit", the Maronite primate justified this appeal with "a sense of responsibility towards Lebanon". In this context, he finally asked the state authorities to "take operational measures to ensure a swift and safe return" of Syrian refugees.