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The New Arab Staff

Lebanon's leading Christian clerics slam government's economic mismanagement

Al-Rai slammed the government's handling of the economy [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 July, 2020

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Lebanese are suffering unprecedented economic meltdown since the civil war.
Lebanon's leading Christian clerics have slammed politicians for their handling of the country's economy, which has led to mass suffering due to rising inflation.

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai accused Lebanese politicians of looking after their own interests and leaving the economy to nose dive and people to go hungry, according to Reuters on Monday.

"It appears politicians want to hide their responsibility in emptying the treasury and not enact any reforms," he said.

"Political officials...do not have the courage nor the freedom to meet and find ways out of the suffering."

The economic crisis in Lebanon centres on the crashing lira, which has seen inflation skyrocket and wiped out people's savings.

Hopes for an IMF bailout are fast fading, as politicians appear unwilling to enact the adjoined reforms or give up their or their sects' privileges.

Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elias Audi also used his Sunday sermon to criticise politicians over the economic malaise.

"Oh respected leaders, I address whatever conscience remains in you," he said. "Do you sleep comfortably at night while those under your care starve, and die of thirst and by suicide?"

Read also: Lebanon suicides spark outrage at govt over economic crisis

Last week, a man's suicide in Beirut sparked mass mourning and anger, after he left behind a heartbreaking note saying "I am not a sinner" - referencing a popular revolutionary song that mentions hunger.

The 61-year-old man shot himself on the sidewalk of a bustling Beirut shopping street in broad daylight, leaving the note and his clean criminal record at the scene. 

Dozens of mourners blamed the government for the man's death, due to the economic hardships he has suffered.

The Lebanese pound, officially pegged at 1,507 pounds to the greenback, reached more than 9,000 to the dollar last week on the black market in a dizzying devaluation.

Prices have soared almost as fast as the exchange rate has plummeted, meaning that a salary of one million pounds is now worth a little more than $100, compared with almost $700 last year.

The weak lira has meant that basics - such as bread - have become increasingly out of reach for many Lebanese.

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