Talking to Shias, Patriarch al-Rahi suggests changes to Lebanon's political system
The prelate envisages possible changes to the executive branch but remains firm on the country’s neutrality and on equality between Christians and Muslims. The ‘Help devastated Beirut’ campaign continues.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi has suggested the possibility of changes to Lebanon’s political system to give more power to the Shia community in the executive branch of government.
The prelate made the proposal last Sunday during a Mass to honour the "martyrs of the Lebanese resistance" that he celebrated in Jbeil.
Card al-Rahi noted that "the revision of Lebanon’s political system and the distribution of prerogatives and functions should take place – if it proves indispensable – after the confirmation of Lebanon's neutrality.” This statement is aimed at the Shia community and Hezbollah.
Under the current system, executive power in the country has been mainly divided between Christians and Sunni Muslims, leaving legislative power (parliament) to the Shias.
The emphasis on “Lebanon’s neutrality” is a message to the Shias, in particular to Hezbollah, which has used the war against Israel as a reason for its presence in Lebanon and for having its own militia and weapons, the only Lebanese party to do so.
For the patriarch, neutrality is the only way for Lebanon to survive in an increasingly complex and tense Middle East, a point he reiterated in a memorandum he wrote for the centenary of Greater Lebanon.
According to some Maronite leaders contacted by L’Orient-Le Jour, a revision is necessary, given the evident "total fiasco" of the Lebanese state. The head of the Maronite Church appears open to a "new concordat" between Lebanon’s communities.
According to the same sources, "neutrality" and the 1989 Taef Agreement, which consecrates equality between Christians and Muslims, are pre-conditions.
Hezbollah and Amal, another Shia party, have fought for weeks to get the Finance Ministry, threatening to veto any new government and to demand a numerical democracy, i.e. one not based on the unwritten Pact that gave birth to Lebanon .
A numerical democracy – given the demographic majority of the Shia community compared to other communities – would give it permanent power, and lead to even greater tensions with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
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