Lebanese patriarch blames Shiites for creating ‘political paralysis’
BEIRUT (LEBANON) – The top Christian cleric of Lebanon has accused the Shiite Muslim community on Sunday of blocking the formation of a new government by making demands, thereby triggering political paralysis in the country which is plagued by a deep crisis.
Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai, who heads the Maronite Church, asked how a particular sect can lay claim over a certain ministry. He was hinting at the Shiite politicians’ demand that they be given the power to nominate the finance minister.
He made the accusation during his Sunday sermon, stoking tension in the Middle Eastern country where power is shared between Muslims and Christians since the end of the civil war.
The argument over appointing the finance minister has made the country miss the September 15 deadline given by France to form a cabinet. The portfolio of finance has always been controlled by Shias.
Shiite leaders said they should be able to choose some portfolios as foreign powers are trying to sideline them.
“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?” said the patriarch.
The prelate said the Taif accord which ended the civil war did not mention handing over certain ministries to specific sects.
Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib is a Sunni Muslim and he wishes to appoint specialists in the cabinet and shuffle the ministries.
Shiite outfits – the Amal Movement and the armed Hezbollah backed by Iran – want to select the ministers to key portfolios such as finance.