Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai met Monday with President Michel Aoun at Baabda Palace, with the former urging Lebanon’s new government to “meet the challenges” facing the country, including rampant corruption.
“I appeal to all political forces to facilitate the formation of a government that will meet the challenges posed politically, economically and financially,” Rai said in televised comments following the sit-down, citing corruption as a key issue.
The current Parliament is scheduled to dissolve Monday, making way for the newly elected government to form.
Rai’s comments Monday echo a sermon he made one day previously at a public Mass in Bkirki, where he stressed the need for the new government to combat corruption.
"We are in a state of economic and financial emergency," Rai said Sunday.
"All of the countries that supported Lebanon in the Rome, Paris and Brussels conferences are watching us, and they are waiting for officials and politicians to carry out reforms to treat this state of emergency," the patriarch said, referring to a series of conferences in March and April that gathered monetary support for Lebanon's economic, military and security sectors, as well as funds for coping with an influx of Syrian refugees.
Rai’s sit-down with Aoun came after the president met earlier Monday morning with Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh, who spoke in a radio interview Sunday against recent U.S. sanctions against Hezbollah, which he said might hamper the new government’s formation.
The sanctions, which target high-ranking Hezbollah members “will obstruct the formation of the government,” Hamadeh said in Sunday’s interview. Lebanon “should be distanced from political tension in order to preserve its security and stability,” the education minister added.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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