ASIA/LEBANON - Standstill in the formation of a government: Patriarch Younan recalls the shared responsibility of Christian politicians

Tuesday, 15 December 2020 middle east   oriental churches   politics   sectaniarism   geopolitics   confessionalism  

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - In Lebanon the path to the formation of a new government is becoming more and more complicated, while the former Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab together with three former ministers are now standing trial for responsibility in the explosions at the port of Beirut on 4 August. As the time for the formation of a new government is lengthened, institutional tensions arose between the Lebanese President Michel Aoun and the Premier Designate Saad Hariri: there was disagreement over the list of ministers who should make up the government.
The Sunni Hariri, leader of the "Future" political party, was in charge of forming the government on 22 October, but has not yet managed to set up a new cabinet in two months. New international pressures aimed at defining the political profile of the new government also complicate the situation. In particular, Hariri fears the threats of US sanctions that could also affect him if ministries are assigned to political representatives who officially belong to the Shiite Party of Hezbollah.
In official statements, Hariri's staff confirmed the intention of the designated Prime Minister to form a government made up of non-partisan experts. President Aoun, a Maronite Christian, claims that the nomination of the list of ministers does not belong exclusively to the designated Prime Minister, but must take into account the guidelines and advice expressed by the Presidency of the Republic, and guaranteeing adequate representation to the various political and social components of the Country. Hariri's staff meanwhile see these demands as an attempt to re-pave the way for a government that is at the mercy of the cross-vetoes of political forces based on the "cake-sharing".
The new institutional tensions are manifesting themselves against the background of a devastating economic and financial crisis. In this context, the Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan, who celebrated the feast of Saints Behnam and Sara in the village of al Fanar (see photo), recalled during the homily the responsibilities of Christian officials and political representatives who have contributed to bring the Land of the Cedars into the serious situation in which it finds itself. "Christian politicians", said the Patriarch, "were not up to the task entrusted to them by the people". Addressing the faithful present, mostly Christian refugees from Iraq and Syria, the head of the Syrian Catholic Church remarked that Lebanon "should have been a refuge for all the oppressed, but unfortunately it was unable to welcome the brothers who came from other countries and to ensure their safety and dignity". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 15/12/2020)