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'Political Paralysis': Lebanese Patriarch Points at ‘Shiite Duo’ for Cabinet Delay

'Political Paralysis': Lebanese Patriarch Points at ‘Shiite Duo’ for Cabinet Delay

Sunday, 20 September, 2020 - 12:15
Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai. (NNA)

Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai took a swipe at leaders of the two main Shiite parties on Sunday for making demands he said were blocking the formation of a new government and causing political paralysis in a nation in deep crisis.

Rai did not mention Shiites directly but asked how one sect can demand “a certain ministry”. Politicians from the Shiite Iran-backed Hezbollah party and the Amal movement, led by parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, have said they must name the finance minister.

Sunday’s sermon adds to tensions in a nation facing its worst crisis since a civil war ended in 1990.

France has been pushing Lebanon to form a new cabinet fast. But a deadline of Sept. 15 that politicians told Paris they would meet has been missed amid a row over appointments, notably the finance minister, a post Shiites controlled for years.

Hezbollah and Amal politicians say they must choose some posts because rivals are trying to use “foreign leverage” to push them aside.

“In what capacity does a sect demand a certain ministry as if it is its own, and obstruct the formation of the government, until it achieves its goals, and so causes political paralysis?” the patriarch wondered.

He said the Taif agreement, a pact that ended the 1975-1990 civil war, did not hand specific ministries to specific sects.

Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib wants to appoint specialists and shake up the leadership of ministries.

Allies Hezbollah and Amal want to select the figures to fill several posts, including the finance minister, a vital position as Lebanon navigates through its economic crisis.

A French roadmap for Lebanon includes the swift resumption of talks with the International Monetary Fund, a first step to helping deal with a mountain of debt and fix Lebanon’s broken banking sector. But it first needs a government.

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