Senior Lebanese cleric urges leaders to end delays in government formation

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai speaks after meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the Presidential Palace in Baabda

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s top Christian cleric urged Lebanese leaders to stop delaying government formation talks in scathing sermon on Sunday in which he blamed them for the financial crisis and deadlock country policy.

Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, head of the Maronite Church, was speaking a day after demonstrators marched through Beirut to mark the first anniversary of a protest movement that erupted last October against corruption and corruption. mismanagement.

In the year that followed, Lebanon’s problems were compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and a devastating explosion in Beirut in August.

“Take your hands off the government and set it free. You are responsible for the crime of plunging the country into total paralysis in addition to the implications of the corona pandemic,” the patriarch said in his sermon.

His remarks came after two main Christian parties, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the Lebanese Forces, said this week that they would not support the appointment of former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri as head of a new government to tackle the deep economic crisis, further complicating efforts to agree on a new prime minister.

“Responsibility and accountability are collective. Who among you officials has time to delay consultations to form a government?” he said.

“No one is innocent of Lebanon’s (financial) hemorrhage.”

Hariri, who resigned as prime minister last October in the face of nationwide protests, said he was ready to lead a government to implement reforms proposed by France as a means of unlocking much-needed international aid .

Parliamentary consultations to appoint a new prime minister were due to take place last Thursday, but President Michel Aoun postponed discussions after receiving requests for delays from some parliamentary blocs.

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