Lebanon News

Rai says neutral Cabinet needed at this stage

Lebanon's Beshara Boutros al-Rai (L) is greeted by US cardinal Bernard Francis Law upon arrival for a ceremony where the pontif will appoint him as one of the six new cardinals on November 24, 2012 at St Peter's basilica at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO

BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai urged Tuesday the formation of a neutral Cabinet that would ease tensions between the March 8 and March 14 political camps and pave the way for a national unity Cabinet later in the future.

“As a first step, a neutral Cabinet should be formed to remove barriers between March 8 and March 14 and achieve reconciliation between these two groups,” Rai told reporters at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri international airport before leaving to the Vatican.

“Then we can form a national unity Cabinet that rescues the country and citizens from what they are currently suffering from,” he added.

Rai is expected to meet with Pope Francis in Vatican where he will stay for several days on a church visit.

Lebanon’s Cabinet formation remains stalled due to differences between rival political parties.

While the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition has called for a national unity Cabinet and demanded having veto power in it, March 14’s Future Movement and Lebanese Forces want a government that excludes political parties and addresses the current security and economic problems.

The Lebanese cardinal also denounced the killing of three Shiite men and a Turk in Baalbek over the weekend and said that the state should strike with an “iron fist” when it comes to such crimes without any political compromises.

“The heinous crime that took place in the Bekaa is completely denounced and so are all other crimes,” said Rai.

“The [deals] that are taking place after each crime takes place are the main reason for not addressing things as they should be arranged,” he said.

“Refraining from striking with an iron fist is what leads to such crimes and others,” he added.

The killing of the four men, affiliated to prominent Shiite clans, in an ambush in Bekaa over the weekend has sparked further tension in the region.

Rai also hailed the role of President Michel Sleiman and the role of the Lebanese Army “to preserve security in cooperation with other security institutions.”





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