02/08/2021, 09.43
LEBANON
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Card. Rai: An 'international conference' to unblock the 'Lebanese paralysis'

In his Sunday Mass homily, the cardinal recalls the expectation for the formation of a government of national salvation, so far failed "due to the prevalence of personal interests". Silence, he attacks, is equivalent to "being accomplices". Metropolitan Audi condemns the murder of Lokman Slim.

Beirut (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Maronite Patriarch Card. Beshara Raï is proposing an "international conference" to "remedy the paralysis of the Lebanese system".

The cardinal launched the idea yesterday, during the Sunday Mass homily which has become an opportunity to explore the issues of politics and local institutions, paralyzed and unable to form a new government.

Meanwhile, President Michel Aoun and the Prime Minister in charge Saad Hariri have not yet reached an agreement on the executive, six months after the twin explosion at the port of Beirut that led to the resignation of his predecessor Hassane Diab.

Card Raï recalls the expectations of a people aimed at the formation of a "government of national salvation" which has so far been disregarded "due to the prevalence of personal and partisan interests" of political leaders "unable to agree and understand each other".

"Remaining silent in this dramatic context is equivalent to being complicit in the crimes committed against Lebanon and its people and washing one's hands of them," warned the cardinal.

He continued that "it is no longer time to escape from personal responsibilities" and "from one's patriotic duties, whatever the reason". “The question - he stated - now goes beyond the government, it is a question of national destiny. Consequently, each authority that does not take this aspect into account loses its popular legitimacy”.

Finally, he underlines how "vain" up to now "all Lebanese, Arab and international initiatives and mediations have been, as if someone wanted to make the state fail".

The prelate concluded that the only alternative is a "special international conference" to be held "under the aegis of the United Nations". It alone will be able to provide "permanent guarantees" to the country, protecting it "from aggression against its national sovereignty, putting an end to the illegal sale of weapons and remedying the absence of a clear constitutional authority" to guarantee "stability" and avoid "paralysis” in the key moment of the election of the president and the formation of a government.

In mid-October, Aoun tasked three-time Prime Minister Rafic Hariri with putting together a new cabinet. The crisis of the last year is but one of the many difficulties affecting Lebanon’s political and economic life, as well as its very political institutions.

The already precarious situation has worsened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the two explosions that rocked the port of Beirut in August, finally pushing 55 per cent of the population below the poverty line amid a permanent emergency.

The extreme instability has triggered a spike in suicides and a rush to buy the few remaining drugs, whilst hospitals are in catastrophic conditions.

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During the mass celebrated yesterday in the Greek Orthodox church of St. George, Metropolitan Élias Audi also vigorously attacked the political class of the country, in particular Aoun and Hariri, accused of asserting personal interests for the good of the country. "Is there only one manager - asks the metropolitan - in our country who works for the general interest?". In his homily, he finally condemned the murder of Lokman Slim. “Why silence - he concluded - people, eliminate the free you and stifle the cries of the people? You don't win by killing and silencing people, [this] is on the contrary a sign of weakness”.

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