Lebanon's Maronite bishops reject call for new govt

Lebanon's Maronite bishops have slammed a Hezbollah proposal for a new national unity government, saying the debate should not be motivated by a "hidden objective" to avoid the creation of an international court on political crimes.

AsiaNews reports that the Maronite bishops' rejection of suggested changes in the current government was seen as a "blow" to the President Emile Lahoud who supports the view that there is the need to form a new "more representative" government, as requested by Hezbollah.

The statement, which followed the bishops' monthly meeting this week, also made a strong appeal for unity among all Lebanese and emphasised the need for concrete gestures to lift the country out of the current crisis.

The statement also criticised recent statements and popular rallies by Hezbollah and other groups because "they do not serve the country and national unity, rather they deal it a grievous blow."

Sheikh Nahim Kassem, the Hezbollah deputy secretary-general rejected the suggestions of the Maronite bishops, reiterating the call for the formation of a new government.

However, the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Mouhammad Rachid Gabbani, has declared himself in favour of the bishops' statements.

In their statement, the bishops also "renewed their gratitude towards all those people and organisations who helped Lebanon during this latest crisis".

They also emphasised the need to rein in emigration from the troubled country.

A common, capable effort must be made in order to motivate youth to remain in their land of origin, because "young people are the true richness of Lebanon, and we call on all to offer their contribution in an able way to remove the prevalent state of anguish and worry."

Concluding their statement, the Maronite bishops joined their voices to that of Benedict XVI, so that in this month of October consecrated to the devotion of Our Lady of the Rosary, she may remain "the light of our families".

Maronite bishops' "no" to new government demanded by Hezbollah and Lahoud (AsiaNews, 5/10/06)

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6 Oct 2006