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Lebanon: Religious, Political Leaders Struggle to Overcome Repercussions of Bassil’s Speech

Lebanon: Religious, Political Leaders Struggle to Overcome Repercussions of Bassil’s Speech

Friday, 15 January, 2021 - 09:15
Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri walks with caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab walks towards the government palace in Beirut. (Reuters)

Sources close to the former prime ministers welcomed religious and political leaders’ endeavor to spare Lebanon sectarian and confessional tension, as a result of the organized campaign led by former Minister Gebran Bassil to hamper the formation of a new government.

The sources affirmed that the former premiers have imposed a “political siege” against the former minister, who was “betting on his ability to evoke sectarian alignment to regain his role on the political arena.”

The sources revealed that the former heads of government made a series of contacts to isolate Bassil, who - with the support of President Michel Aoun - used all his power within the state’s administrations and institutions in the hope that his name would remain on the list of candidates for the presidency.

Bassil, in a televised news conference on Sunday, called for a new political pact, which many saw as a coup against the Taif Accord.

In this context, former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora contacted each of Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdullatif Derian, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Youssef Absi, Metropolitan Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church Elias Audi, and the deputy head of the Lebanese Forces party, MP Georges Adwan, who have all agreed on blocking attempts aimed at stirring sectarian disputes in the government formation process.

Sources said that some of the leaders expressed surprise at the targeted campaign led by Aoun against Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, whom he accused of making false statements to the media regarding the cabinet formation.

In a video leaked by some media institutions, Aoun was seen chatting with Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab and telling him that Hariri lied when he said that he presented a government lineup to the president.

“There is no formation… [Hariri] said that he gave me a paper… He is lying... He made false statements... and traveled to Turkey,” Aoun was heard as telling Diab during their meeting on Monday.

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