Lebanon: patriarch Raï calls for independent investigation and goverment of change
The cardinal appeals to the United Nations to impose an international investigation into the incident of 4 August. And it attacks an executive who risks “resembling the previous ones”, marked by sectarianism and divisions, unable to solve problems. Nabih Berry threatens the lack of support for the executive without the control of the Ministry of Finance.
Criticism of the government which risks “resembling the previous ones” that have “led the country to collapse”, combined with an appeal to the United Nations to “impose” an “impartial and independent” international investigation into the double explosion of 4 August. This is what the Maronite Patriarch Card Beshara Raï called for yesterday during Sunday Mass, addressing the twin crisis that are sweeping Lebanon the political one and the dramatic port explosions: a tragedy that caused over 190 deaths, more than 6,500 injured. 300,000 displaced and fueled strong divisions.
Unlike the cardinal, the political and institutional leaders of the land of cedars – first and foremost the President of the Republic Michel Aoun – are opposed to the international investigation, because it would represent a risk to the balance of the nation. Meanwhile, the trade in blame, accusations and responsibilities regarding the incident continues, which end up further hindering an investigation that is already complicated in itself.
The Lebanese judiciary has opened two internal investigations, one on the August 4 catastrophe and the second on the most recent incident, on September 10, which reopened wounds. However, activists and ordinary citizens – and the international community itself – strongly criticize the investigations of being largely ineffective, lacking in authority and incapable of leading to discovering the true causes of the tragedy that has struck an entire nation.
“The prevarication of the local investigations, the contradictory information, the questions raised and the second fire, in addition to the negligence of the perpetrators, push us to ask for an impartial and independent international investigation”, underlined Card Raï. He then added that “sovereignty is not in contradiction with justice”. “We no longer accept – he continued – a government that resembles the previous ones, and which have led the country to collapse. A government in which portfolios are the prerogative of a faction or a community in the name of the National Pact”. The reference is to the desire of the Amal movement, Shiite, Hezbollah’s closest ally, to keep the Ministry of Finance.
The Speaker of the Lebanese parliament, the Shiite Nabih Berry, has announced that Amal does not intend to be part of the next executive, due to the ongoing controversy over the allocation of the department that controls the state coffers. This is the main issue hindering the birth of the next government, and which was the subject of the phone call yesterday between Berry himself and French President Emmanuel Macron, the first world leader to visit Lebanon after the accident at the port. “The problem – the Shiite leader declared in a statement – is not with the French. It is an internal matter ”.
According to deputy Kassem Hachem, the Speaker of the House has also staked a claim to the assignment of Finance to Amal, a role that was assigned in the recent past to a Shiite exponent. The prospect of an executive without the Shiite tandem and without the presence of Berry therefore seems impractical. If the prime minister in charge Moustapha Adib wants to force his hand and propose a government without the green light of Amal and Hezbollah, writes the pro-Shiite journalist Salem Zahran, then it will almost certainly mean the withdrawal en bloc of the Shiite deputies ”.