Pope urges Lebanon’s politicians to ‘put aside’ personal interests

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Pope Francis urged Lebanese politicians Sunday to “put aside... personal interests” and come to an agreement on filling a power vacuum in the crisis-hit country, which currently has no president.

“I call on Lebanese politicians to put aside your personal interests, look at the country and come to an agreement,” the pontiff said at a press conference during his return journey from a trip to Bahrain.

Already mired in political and economic crises, Lebanon is now also without a president after Michel Aoun's mandate expired at the start of the week without a successor.

Now, headed by a caretaker government, Lebanon is unable to enact the major reforms needed to access billions of dollars from international lenders to help save an economy in freefall since late 2019.

Lebanese lawmakers vote in parliament for the president. But parliament has held four rounds of voting since September, with no candidate garnering enough support to succeed Aoun.

“I don't want to say 'save' Lebanon, because we are not saviours,” Francis said.

“But please: support Lebanon, help it to get out of this bad situation. Let Lebanon regain its greatness,” he said.

For three years Lebanon has been in the throes of one of the worst economic crises in recent history according to the World Bank.

Since 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 95 percent of its value against the dollar on the black market and poverty rates have climbed to cover most of the population.

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