01/02/2019, 13.46
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Maronite Patriarch calls for a neutral, technocratic cabinet to deal with peace and development in Lebanon

Card Beshara al-Rahi’s New Year message addresses the country’s political crisis, slamming those who hinder the formation of a new cabinet, which is needed to ensure "political, economic and social stability". For Greek-Catholic metropolitan, “the interests of the nation [come] above everything else.”

Beirut (AsiaNews) – In his New Year message, Maronite Patriarch Card Beshara al-Rahi criticised the country’s Shia, Sunni and Christian lawmakers for failing to reach an agreement to form a new government after eight months.

The cardinal accuses those who "have hindered the formation of a government [. . .] of failing to fulfil their duty to ensure peace, which the people of Lebanon need."

The head of the Maronite Church would like to see a non-political cabinet be set up, with experts and specialists from various domains to overcome the current political, economic and governmental stalemate.

For the cardinal, the country is "hostage to political militias" who have made the crisis worse, so much so that ordinary Lebanese have taken to the streets to protest.

In his homily during yesterday’s solemn Mass at the Patriarchate headquarters in Bkerké, Card al-Rahi stated that peace in his view means "political, economic and social stability, and employment opportunities for everyone."

If those who lead the country really want to "revive Lebanon", they must avert "financial and governmental crises" by establishing a "neutral government of technocrats."

Some of the obstacles to forming a new cabinet, which was expected before Christmas holidays, include the balance of power within the various party alliances and the assignment of some of the most important ministries, like the ministries of industry, environment and information.

"We want to live together with respect and mutual trust in the implementation of the spirit and the letter of the Taif agreement", the patriarch said. The latter refers to the accord that ended the Lebanese civil war.

The Greek Catholic Metropolitan of Beirut Elias Audi shares the patriarch’s concerns. In a statement, he called for the new year to provide "a different way for political factions to proceed” since it is their duty to put "the interests of the nation above everything else."

Since last May Lebanon has been waiting for a strong and united government to deal with the country’s many threats and challenges: from the economy to the immigration crisis, from rising poverty to high unemployment, especially among young people.

The Lebanese Church has been very critical of this very serious situation, exacerbated by the war in neighbouring Syria, which has triggered an unprecedented humanitarian emergency.

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