Cardinal Rai blasts Shiite duo for sabotaging formation of new gov

File photo of Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai in a Sunday sermon.

Cardinal Beshara al-Rahi the Maronite Patriarch on Sunday blasted the so called Shiite duo of Hezbollah and Amal Movement without naming them, over sabotaging the formation of the new government

“It is not enough for a lawmaker to resign here, or a minister to resign there,” Patriarch Rai said in a Sunday sermon. “It is necessary, out of sensitivity to the feelings of the Lebanese and the immense responsibility required, for the entire government to resign, because it is incapable of moving the country forward.”

“What entitles a sect to demand a certain ministry as if it owns it, what entitles it to sabotage the government’s formation until it gets what it wants, causing political paralysis and economic, financial and social damages?” al-Rai said in his Sunday Mass sermon.

“Where is the three-point agreement among political forces for reform: a small rescue government, independent and specialist ministers who have political experience and a rotation of portfolios,” the patriarch added.

Noting that Article 95 of the Constitution “does not allocate a ministry to a certain sect,” al-Rai wondered whether a new amendment is being “imposed by force.”

“Our rejection of monopolization is constitutional and not sectarian or targeted a certain sect, but rather against a novelty that contradicts with the principle of equality between ministries and sects,” the patriarch explained.

Addressing Prime Minister-designate Mustafa Adib, he called on him to “abide by the Constitution and press on with the formation of a government that the people and the world are awaiting.”

“There is no need for bowing to conditions nor to delay or stepping down,” al-Rai went on to say.

The patriarch also said he will not accept changes to the political system “amid the presence of mini-states.”

“What benefit will a change to the system carry amid the hegemony of chaotic and illegitimate arms,” al-Rai asked, in reference to Hezbollah arms.

The Iranian backed Hezbollah is the only militia that was allowed by Syria during its occupation of Lebanon to keep its arms at the end of the civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1990.

The demands by the Shiite duo violate the French plan, aimed at uprooting endemic corruption and preventing the ruling elite from controlling the finances Lebanon expects to get from international organisations following the government formation.

Past aid went into the pockets of corrupt politicians and parties. Little was spent on paying the mounting pile of debt, improving the debilitated infrastructure or creating jobs for millions of unemployed youth.

French president Emanuel Macron has recently said France wants to help Lebanon get out of its financial and political crisis, but failing to implement structural reforms within a 3-month period would result in “punitive actions”, including withholding international aid and possibly even sanctions against leading politicians.

The French president was warned by many that he cannot entrust a corrupt ruling class with reforming the system. It is time of reckoning for him and Lebanon.

According to analysts , Macron has probably given this his best shot. Now, it most probably is time to enact his plan B. There does not seem to be a way out of the current impasse without serious measures — a game changer to convince the country’s factions that the Lebanese people and the international community has had enough.