LEBANON: Syriac Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Raï sharply criticizes and renews call to speed up formation of new government

BEIRUT, ܠܒܢܢ – In his sermon on Sunday, Syriac Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Raï renewed his call to political leaders and officials in Lebanon to speed up the formation of a new Lebanese government. The renewed call came a day after Lebanese demonstrators marched out in the streets of Beirut to mark the first anniversary of the revolution that started in October 2019 and was directed against the country’s widespread corruption and political mismanagement,

Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Raï pointed the country’s politicians out as the direct culprits of the financial debacle and the political implosion in the country, and strongly urged them to stop delaying talks on the formation of a new government. Patriarchal-Raï said in his sermon;

“A full year has passed since the start of the popular revolution. A revolution for change in the mentality of politicians, the role of society, and the performance of state institutions. However, we see with pain and condemnation of the political system that it deliberately, neglected and disdainfully keeps ignoring the demands of the demonstrators and our people… It does not form a government, does not respect friendly initiatives, does not undertake reforms, and does not negotiate seriously with the international financial institutions.”

“The people have lost confidence in the political community and the state, the political officials on their part have lost the modesty and respect of the people and the world, and those in charge of the state have suspended its role as a constitutional entity in the service of the people and society.”

“No one is innocent of Lebanon’s bleeding. The responsibility is collective, and the calculation is collective. Who among you, officials and politicians, has the luxury of time to delay the parliamentary consultations and the formation of the government? Which of you has the authority to play with the constitution, the charter, the Taif document, order, and the life of the country and the people? Lift your hands from the government and release it. You are responsible for the crime of throwing the country into a state of complete paralysis, in addition to what the Corona epidemic does.”

Underscoring the truth of the Patriarch’s complaint is that Free Patriotic Movement led by Syriac Maronite Gebran Bassil, son in law of Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, rejected the candidacy of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri to head the new government. Saad Hariri has put himself forward to form a new government after failed attempts by Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib.

The Free Patriotic Movement party, which is close to Hezbollah, has now announced that it would not support Hariri for a new term as Prime Minister. The decision came after a meeting of the party’s political bureau, after which it said it could not support a political figure such as Hariri because the proposal of French President Emmanuel Macron called for the formation of a government of “technocrats”, a reform government formed and led by specialists.