ROME — Pope Francis has sent an “urgent” invitation to Lebanese Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri to meet with him in the Vatican, local media reported late Monday.
The purpose of the meeting would be to help mediate between President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri (pictured) in the formation of Lebanon’s new government.
On Sunday, an MP from the Future Movement — founded by Hariri — called on President Aoun to cooperate with the Prime Minister-designate to rescue the country threatened with a economic collapse by agreeing to a cabinet of nonpartisan specialists with no veto power granted to any side.
In late 2019, Hariri resigned as prime minister following mass protests concerning the country’s woeful economic situation. He was again designated as prime minister on October 22, 2020, but has failed to form a government since then.
On Easter, Pope Francis thanked Lebanon publicly for its role in generously “taking in many refugees who have fled from the conflict in Syria.”
Protest-hit Lebanon has approved an economic rescue plan and requested aid from the International Monetary Fund as it battles its worst financial crisis in decades. https://t.co/sc9vUa8aY1
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“May the people of Lebanon, who are undergoing times of difficulty and uncertainty, experience the consolation of the Risen Lord and find support from the international community in their vocation to be a land of encounter, coexistence and pluralism,” the pontiff stated.
Lebanon’s financial crisis has been worsening by the day and on March 16, the exchange rate reached 15000 Lebanese pounds to the dollar.
On March 29, speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri warned that Lebanon could sink like the Titanic if no government is formed.
In an address to a parliamentary session, Speaker Berri compared Lebanon to the doomed luxury liner. “If it sinks, everyone will drown,” he said. “The time has come to wake up because in the end, if the ship sinks, no one will survive.”
After five months and 18 meetings between Hariri and Aoun, no government has yet been formed, a crisis that the pope seems determined to remediate.