Lebanese top cleric urges leaders to stop delays in forming government

Lebanese top cleric urges leaders to stop delays in forming government
Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai speaks after meeting with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon July 15, 2020. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 18 October 2020

Lebanese top cleric urges leaders to stop delays in forming government

Lebanese top cleric urges leaders to stop delays in forming government
  • Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai was speaking a day after demonstrators marched through Beirut to mark the first anniversary
  • His remarks came after two main Christian parties said this week they would not back the nomination of former Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s top Christian cleric urged Lebanese leaders to stop delaying talks on forming a government in a scathing Sunday sermon in which he blamed them for the country’s financial crisis and political deadlock.
Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, leader of the Maronite church, was speaking a day after demonstrators marched through Beirut to mark the first anniversary of a protest movement which erupted last October against corruption and mismanagement.
In the year since, Lebanon’s problems have been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and a devastating explosion in Beirut in August.
“Take your hands off the government and liberate it. 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 Lebanese Forces, said this week they would not back the nomination of former Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri to lead a new government to tackle the deep economic crisis, further complicating efforts to agree a new premier. “The responsibility and accountability is collective. Who among you officials has the leisure of time to delay consultations to form a government?” he said.
“No one is innocent of Lebanon’s (financial) bleeding.”
Hariri, who quit as prime minister last October in the face of the nationwide protests, has said he is ready to lead a government to implement reforms proposed by France as a way to unlock badly needed international aid.
Parliamentary consultations to name a new prime minister were due to be held last Thursday, but President Michel Aoun postponed the discussions after receiving requests for a delay from some parliamentary blocs.


Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom
Updated 39 min 12 sec ago

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom

Bahrainis detained by Qatar return to kingdom
  • The 3 were released by Qatari authorities on Thursday and arrived in Bahrain via Oman
  • They were arrested while fishing, Bahrain says they were in territorial waters

DUBAI: Three Bahrainis detained by Qatar have arrived back in the kingdom after Manama helped to extradite their release, the Bahrain News Agency reported on Friday.
Bodybuilding champion Sami Al-Haddad, his friend Mohammed Al-Dossari and fisherman Habib Abbas were released by Qatari authorities on Thursday after they were arrested by Qatari coast and border security while fishing at sea, in two separate incidents. Bahrain said that the three citizens were in the country’s territorial waters.
The three men thanked Bahrain’s King Hamad and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad for the attention and care that they had received, which they said had a great impact on their release and return.
They also thanked the interior ministry, headed by Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah, and the foreign ministry, headed by Abdullatif Al-Zayani, for their efforts and the measures that contributed to their safe return.
The men said that they were proud to see the “patriotic interest they received for their cause,” both from the government and the Bahraini people.
Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “profound thanks and gratitude to Oman for the efforts made by the authorities in the sultanate to coordinate and follow up on the release of Bahraini citizens detained in Qatar and to facilitate their return to Bahrain.”
The three arrived in Oman on Thursday following their release, the kingdom’s embassy in Muscat confirmed.
The ministry said that the release of the citizens by Qatar was “a step that reflects the spirit required toward resolving the outstanding issues between the two countries in order to enhance the process of cooperation between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.”
The statement also said that Bahrain hoped that Qatar would release Asian sailors who work on Bahraini fishing vessels, and take into account their humanitarian situation.
Bahrain, along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt, ended a three-year rift with Qatar on Jan. 5 following a GCC summit in the historic city of AlUla, formally restoring diplomatic relations and opening their land, sea and air borders.