Lebanon’s Patriarch urges gov. formation, pres. election, resolving refugee situation

File photo of Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai during one of his Sunday Mass sermons

Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai called for the formation of a new government, asserting his rejection of a “caretaker government,” “constitutional vacuum,” and “presidential vacancy.”

“We demand the formation of an inclusive government as soon as possible and we urge all political forces that believe in Lebanon’s free, sovereign, independent, strong and resilient entity to put aside their conflicts and interests and secure political stability, not only for the sake of the government’s formation and the election of a new president, but also for fending off any regional threat to Lebanon,” the Patriarch said in his Sunday Mass sermon.

Rai added that the formation of a government is “an essential condition for continuing the negotiations with the international community and the International Monetary Fund, and for resuming the talks over the southern maritime border, on which the fate of the oil and gas fortune is hinging.”

He stressed that “the public interest requires that the coming government enjoy national representation that is liberated from conditions that violate the constitution, the National Pact and the norms.

“We want a government in which Lebanese components are equal in shouldering all ministerial responsibilities,” no monopolization of portfolios . The portfolios should not be the property of a certain sect or party, Rai stressed

Speaking after the Maronite Church’s Synod of Bishops’ spiritual exercise, Rai said it is time to decide whether “we are worthy of this nation and its pluralistic composition.”

He slammed the political parties as ” irresponsible and disregard people’s sufferings and the fate of Lebanon.”

“This is a delicate stage that calls for choosing a credible prime minister who has the experience, knowledge, and wisdom in public affairs capable of forming a cabinet with the President of the Republic as soon as possible to take urgent decisions, the first of which is to initiate vital and expected reforms,” asserted the Patriarch.


He called on the international community to help Lebanon by finding a solution to the presence of Palestinian refugees and displaced Syrians on Lebanese soil, stressing that “the human and brotherly feelings that we have for these two brotherly peoples do not nullify the national thinking in the interest of Lebanon.”

Rai noted that it could not be accepted that many parties, especially at the international level, consider refugees and displaced persons a reality that must be adapted to the point of integration, settlement, and naturalization.

He wondered how some countries can claim they are keen on maintaining Lebanon’s independence and stability while they work to undermine its unity.

“This is a destructive logic that will inevitably undermine Lebanon’s unity and force us to confront it to save Lebanon’s entity, its current constitution, and its charter formula.”

He called on the Lebanese state to make an exceptional effort by negotiating with the Palestinian Authority, the Arab League, the United Nations, and major countries to redeploy the refugees in countries capable of accommodating them.

He also stressed that the time has come for the displaced Syrians to return and build their homeland.

Lebanese parties are discussing the nomination of a new prime minister amid fears that disparities will prevent the prime minister-designate from forming his cabinet, and the resigned government will remain a caretaker until President Michel Aoun’s term expires on October 31.

The bishops of the Maronite Church supported Rai, affirming in their concluding statement their adherence to coexistence, the national pact, and the participatory formula among the Lebanese components in the political system.

They called on political officials to form a new government to address corruption and implement the required reforms.

Asharq al Awsat /News agencies