Lebanon News

Bassil says Christian political power undermined

Bassil speaks to reporters following the Reform and Change bloc meeting in Rabieh, Wednesday, August 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/HO)

BEIRUT: Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil condemned Wednesday the vacuum in the presidency, arguing that the climate in Lebanon’s political arena has done much to marginalize Christians.

“Is it time for administrative, parliamentary and presidential partnership, or is it time for ISIS-like policies?" Bassil asked rhetorically in an interview after the Free Patriotic Movement’s meeting.

The foreign minister likened the exodus of Christians from Iraq to the vacancy in the top Christian post in Lebanon, saying that the FPM rejects the absence of "indigenous Christians" from Mosul and Baabda Palace.

“We are resistant and we will not back down from our compromise,” he said. “The political deal starts with Mosul and ends with the Presidency."

With regards to the electoral law, Bassil said that the FPM is trying to offer laws that achieve partnership, but the failure to approve these laws have revealed the illegitimacy of Parliament and the Constitutional Council.

“Let us live in an extension that is nominated for another extension that extends with it the absence of partnership, the absence of compromise and [preserves an] imbalance”

With regards to the presidency, he implied that consensus candidates were as weak as the presidential post itself after the Taif Accord stripped the office of many of its powers.

Bassil said that the current political system tries to compensate the weakening of the top Christian post with an electoral law, representative government and power-sharing agreements.

“We struggle to regain the post, and we are accused of disruption, after they disrupted the post and look towards [undermining] those who could fill it,” he said in reference to political parties accusing the FPM of disrupting elections by boycotting the poll.

Bassil accused several parties of countering the efforts of the FPM across several ministries, saying that their good policies were being shut down and their projects disabled.

“The spirit of militias and control in the country conquer the spirit of the state," he said. “By staying in public administration, the party is fighting for its reformist mentality, but we are being manipulated so that our projects stop.”

Specifically, the telecommunications sector is declining and electric companies are not being operated, he said, adding that some parties are seeking to halt the construction of dams, gas pipelines and projects to extract oil resources.

Separately, Bassil called on the Vatican and Western churches to protect Christians in Iraq and punish terrorists, urging them to do "more than just pray.”

“Who will carry the message if the messengers are removed?” he said.

Bassil also called on Muslims to reveal the true moderate nature of Islam, arguing that the threat ISIS poses to Muslims in the long run is greater than the threat it poses to Christians.





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