12/27/2019, 09.21
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Lebanon: economy, anti-government protests and new executive in Christmas homilies

The Maronite patriarch calls for the "rapid formation" of an executive made up of specialists.  The Greek Orthodox metropolitan accuses the ruling class of thinking "of one's own salvation".  The interim prime minister Hassane Diab encounters resistance in the formation of the new government, "political coverage" is lacking.  Hariri ready to lead the opposition.


Beirut (AsiaNews / OLJ) - Economic difficulties;  anti-government protests against corruption and malfeasance which, in mid-December, saw an escalation of tension;  the difficult process towards the formation of a new government, calls to lift the country from the crisis.  These are the themes at the center of the Christmas homilies of the Lebanese patriarchs and bishops, who have not forgotten support for the popular uprising, calling political leaders to their responsibilities.

At mass celebrated in the church of Our Lady in Bkerké, Maronite Patriarch Card. Béchara Raï hoped that the new executive would be formed by "personalities of weight" at national level, known "for their specialization and their competence".  The hope, he added, is that they can "steer the country towards the path of economic and social recovery".

The cardinal recalled the urgent need for a "rapid training" of a "transition and salvation" executive made up of independent specialists.  In the message released in recent days on the occasion of the feast he had also stressed "the pain" manifested by an entire nation (and mentioned in the message urbi et orbi by Pope Francis himself) invoking urgent "reforms" to respond to the crisis.

Archbishop Élias Audi, Greek Orthodox metropolitan of Beirut, accused the ruling class of thinking only "of their own salvation" at the Christmas mass in St George's Cathedral in central Beirut.  "Instead of taking on their responsibilities - added the prelate - they incite the people against the Church and urge them to ask them what should be guaranteed by the state".  The Greek Catholic Metropolitan of Beirut Msgr.  Georges Bakhoun recalls that the priority of a new executive remains "the fight against corruption and the economic crisis", the most serious ever seen and underpinning widespread corruption.

The head of the Chaldean Church in Lebanon Msgr.  Michel Kassarji recalls that "the festivities this year coincide with a popular anger caused by the irresponsibility of the state in the face of the crisis and rights, which are not guaranteed".  This revolt, he continues, "claims the fight against corruption, and the creation of a republic founded on justice, equality and respect for dignity". 

Archbishop Georges Bou Jaoudé, Maronite Archbishop of Tripoli, addresses those responsible for listening to "the voice of the people, threatened by poverty and famine".  Finally, the Greek-Catholic Archbishop of Tripoli and the North, Msgr.  Édouard Daher, addressed the President of the Republic Michel Aoun (present at the Mass at the Maronite patriarchate) to collaborate with Diab for the birth of a government "in accordance with the demands of the people".

On the political front, a week after his appointment as prime minister, Hassane Diab's task of forming a new government is becoming increasingly difficult.  He is looking for independent specialists and technicians, disconnected from the parties, to respond to multiple challenges.

However, he cannot find "political backing" that will allow the success of the operation, especially in the faction loyal to the outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who appears with increasing strength as the future leader of the opposition front.  In addition to this, Diab's inability to emerge to impose himself as a leader capable of having his conditions accepted, calming the protesters and inspiring trust in the international community.

The interim prime minister insists on his project and has unveiled a government made up of 18 ministers,  technicians and non-affiliated to the parties, divided as follows: 4 Maronites, 4 Sunnis, 4 Shiites, 2 Greek Orthodox, 1 Greek Catholic, 1 Druze, 1 Armenian  and 1 representative of minorities.

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