Beirut (AsiaNews) – After three days of heated debate, charges and counter-charges and clashes between the majority and the opposition, the new Lebanese government led by Najib Mikati won a vote of confidence in the Lebanese parliament, with 68 votes out of 128. Shia-dominated Hizbollah and the “Free Patriotic Movement” of Maronite Michel Aoun back the government of Sunni Mikati, whilst the opposition includes members from the 14 March coalition, led by the pro-Saudi “Future Movement” of former Prime Minister Saad Eddin Hariri.
Prime Minister Mikati reiterated his government’s intention to cooperate with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (who was killed on 14 February 2005). He rejected opposition criticism against his commitment to “respect” the United Nations resolutions rather “follow" them. He added that his government would “continue the path of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon”.
Lebanon is currently going through a period of political and social turmoil following the indictment by the STL of four members of Hizbollah in connection with the Hariri assassination (see “Car bomb kills Lebanon's former Prime Minister,” in AsiaNews, 14 February 2005). Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that members of his powerful Shia party would not be arrested. Discussions in parliament centred on the international tribunal, Hizbollah’s disarmament and the situation in Syria.
Maronite Synod, which met on Wednesday in Bkerke chaired by patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, said it hoped that the new Lebanese government, with the confidence of parliament now behind it, would be able to tackle domestic issues and address the needs of the people. The bishops trust that the government will be able to assume its responsibilities at a critical moment in the history of Lebanon and the region.
In its monthly press release, the Synod said, “The issuing of the bill of indictment by the international court, at the time when the new government was getting ready to discuss its ministerial statement, has stirred the discussion and increased the gap between the political parties in Lebanon.” Hence, the bishops “appeal to all political authorities to keep up to the high democratic discussion, endeavour to unite the view, bring forth the truth and work at implementing justice which has for effect to put an end to the serial murders and to stir discord in the country.”
Looking at events in the Arab world, the bishops said, “Troubles and painful events still blow over a number of the region countries, causing there a number of casualties, spreading destruction, disorder and unclearness [sic]”, which causes uncertainty “about what might come out of it as deep social and political changes.”
Whilst they “express their anxiety about this situation, they ask God to grant security, peace and stability to these countries” as well as “encourage their sons and daughters to hold to their land, love their homelands and serve them” and “endeavour to [bear] witness for spiritual, social and humane values”.