TUE 14 - 7 - 2020
Date: Oct 28, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Pope calls for dialogue in Lebanon following protests
Listen to the people before it's too late: Rai
Agence France Presse
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis urged dialogue in Lebanon Sunday after days of sweeping protests against the political class, urging the country to respect "dignity and freedom."

Tension has mounted in recent days between security forces and protesters, who are blocking roads and bringing Lebanon to a standstill to press their demands for a complete overhaul of the political system.

"I would like to address a special thought to the dear Lebanese people, in particular to the young who ... have made their cries heard in the face of the social and economic challenges and problems of the country," Pope Francis said.

"I urge everyone to seek the right solutions in the way of dialogue," he said after the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square.

He said he hoped that "with the support of the international community, that country may continue to be a space for peaceful coexistence and respect for the dignity and freedom of every person, to benefit of the entire Middle East."

The protesters - who have thronged Lebanese towns and cities since Oct. 17 - are demanding the removal of the entire political class, accusing politicians of all stripes of systematic corruption.

Listen to the people before it's too late: Rai

BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai called on officials to listen to the peoples’ demands and their uprising "before it's too late" during Sunday Mass in Bkirki.

“Seek what satisfies the people and do not ignore this uprising before it deviates from its course. ... Respond to our people’s needs with an act of love that would free you from the captivity of your benefits,” Rai said, addressing politicians.

Sunday marked the 11th day of nationwide protests against the ruling class and widespread corruption. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets since Oct. 17 demanding the resignation of the government and president and to hold early parliamentary elections.

“The government did not implement any reform required by the CEDRE conference to benefit from the pledged funds,” Rai said, referring to a conference held last year in Paris where the international community pledged over $11 billion in grants and soft loans.

The patriarch said the uprising joined Lebanese people under one flag, and the ruling class “cannot ignore [the people] and must listen to their demands before it’s too late.”

He also called on the protesters blocking the roads to "facilitate the movement of people."

Protesters have been blocking roads across the country since the start of the uprising. Security officials agreed in a meeting Saturday to open the roads without the use of violence.

Local news channel MTV reported the Mass was attended by a delegation of Free Patriotic Movement lawmakers, party officials and supporters, as well as Kataeb MP Elias Hankash.

"We're here to thank the patriarch for his support of the president," FPM official Gilbert Salameh said.

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