On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri met with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi to reaffirm his keenness on forming a government of nonpartisan specialists that will rescue Lebanon of its economic crises.
The visit of Hariri to Bkerki, the historical headquarters of the Maronite Patriarchate, was deemed of high importance in that it reportedly aimed at yielding support from the head of the Maronite Church, known for his influence.
During the meeting, Hariri expressed that, having been prime minister many times before, his goal was not to become prime minister nor to form just any government.
He stressed that his aim is to implement reforms, bring funds to the cash-strapped nation, and rebuild Beirut after the devastating blast at the port.
Hariri discussed the obstacles of the government formation with Al-Rahi and informed him about the draft Cabinet lineup that he presented to Lebanese President Michel Aoun. Hariri stressed that the issue was not a Christian-Muslim one as portrayed.
According to local reports, Patriarch Al-Rahi promised to conduct the necessary contacts with all concerned parties, headed by President Aoun, in order to save the country and speed up the announcement of a government.
The air between Hariri and Aoun has been tense as the pair can’t see eye to eye about the Cabinet lineup, namely in the distribution of portfolios and naming of ministers.
Recently, Hariri submitted his draft Cabinet lineup that was reportedly in line with the French initiative, however, he was met with Aoun’s counter-proposal. Now, both Hariri and Aoun are accusing each other of delaying the government formation.
Addressing the port investigation from Bkerki, Hariri said that people have the right to know the truth and that “no one will be covered, but things should happen in the full respect of the constitution and laws.”
After the blast, Al-Rahi was among those calling for the government’s resignation and for an international probe.
Hariri’s visit is a significant effort to promote the fact that the new government is about rescuing Lebanon rather than the division and control over of ministerial posts.