2011-03-22 15:59:03

Uncertain future for Lebanon

While most eyes are turned on the turmoil in Libya, uncertainty reigns in Lebanon – a nation Pope Benedict sees as “a message of freedom and respectful coexistence” for the region and for the entire world. Demonstrators took to the streets Sunday demanding an end to confessional politics in Lebanon in exchange for a lay state.
Under a governmental system that guarantees representation for all of Lebanon’s 18 different religious confessions, the country’s President is always a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni and the speaker of the house a Shiite.
But since January, when Hezbollah and its allies withdrew from the national unity government over a dispute regarding jurisdiction of the special international tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of former prime minster Rafik Hariri, Lebanon has been without a cabinet.
In February, Pope Benedict met Lebanese President Michel Sleiman in the Vatican. A communique’ following that meeting noted “that the action by civil and religious authorities in educating people to peace and reconciliation is of the utmost importance” for Lebanon and that “the promotion of cooperation and dialogue among religious confessions is ever more necessary.”
Both leaders “expressed hope that the formation of a new government [in Lebanon] would bring the much desired stability to the nation, which is called to face important domestic and international challenges.
Vatican Radio caught up with caretaker Information minister Tarek Mitri during a recent visit to Rome. We asked him how the political situation at home is likely to be resolved.
Listen to Tracey McClure’s program: RealAudioMP3

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