Aoun tells the Lebanese, if no agreement, they are ‘going to hell’

Author : Mircea Birca | Friday, September 25, 2020
Posted in category Eurasia, Middle Orient
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The Lebanese President blames Mustapha Adib and the Shia duo for the failure to form the government.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun assured the Lebanese that they’ll be “going to Hell” if no agreement is reached soon enough on solutions to form a new government. Aoun was speaking at a press conference on Monday, during which he put the blame on Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib for seeking to form a government without consulting the parliamentary blocs.

Next to Adib, the president criticised the Shia duo — Hezbollah and Amal Movement — for their stubbornness and insistence on naming a Shia finance minister and pointed out that this went against the constitution.

Instead, Aoun suggested that the sovereign ministries, including the finance ministry, should not be the private preserve of this large sect or that small sect, and that there should be a rotation system for these ministries.

Observers say that the recent US sanctions on two former ministers, one of whom is the political aide to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and the other the former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, followed by further sanctions on two companies that Washington said were owned by Hezbollah, increased the intransigence of the Shia duo.

On Sunday, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai criticised the Shia duo’s demand. “By what right does a sect demand a certain ministry as if it belongs to it, and delays the formation of the government until it gets what it wants?” he asked.

During his press conference, it was very noticeable that Aoun was extremely confused when reading a written statement. He paused several times to make out certain words and attempt to pronounce them correctly.

“We have proposed logical and median solutions to form the government, but they were rejected by the two parties (the Shia duo and the prime minister-designate); so going back to the constitutional texts and respecting them remains the solution in which there is neither a victor nor a loser,” said Aoun.

The president admitted several times the difficulties to government formation at a time when the prime minister-designate was very clear in a press statement he released before the president’s press conference.

“Lebanon does not have the luxury of wasting more time in view of the unprecedented financial, monetary, economic, social and health crises it is going through,” Adib said.

“The suffering of the Lebanese that reverberates across the nation and is reflected in the deadly sea crossings (referring to the waves of illegal migration to Europe across the Mediterranean), requires the cooperation of all parties in order to facilitate the formation of a government with a single purpose and with a specific programme, which the parties had previously pledged to support, and made up of specialists capable of stopping (the country’s) collapse and of working to yank the country out of its crises, and restore the citizen’s confidence in his country and its institutions,” Adib’s statement continued.

Adib stressed that he would spare no effort to “achieve this goal in cooperation with the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun,” and wished that everyone “start, immediately and without delay, participating in ensuring the success of the French initiative, which opens the way for Lebanon’s rescue and for stopping its rapid deterioration.”

He concluded by warning that “any additional delay exacerbates and deepens the crisis, and pushes people towards more poverty, and the state towards more impotence, and I do not think that anyone could bear the weight of the guilt of causing more pain to the Lebanese people who have suffered so much and still are.”

Mustafa Adib’s statement clearly reflected his adherence to the French initiative that calls for the formation of a “government with a single mission,” meaning a government of specialists, removed from partisan meddling and control, and vested with a specific mission.

Since his appointment at the end of last August and on the same day as Macron’s latest visit to Beirut, Mustafa Adib has met four times with Aoun without being able to present to him a new cabinet.

Moreover, and since the horrific blast August 4 at the port of Beirut, France has exerted tremendous pressure on the political forces in Lebanon to form a government devoted to undertaking urgent reforms in exchange for international financial support to pull the country out of its economic crisis and re-launch its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

At the end of his September 1 visit to Beirut, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that Lebanese political forces had pledged to form a “government with a specific mission” composed of “independent members” and enjoying the support of all political parties within a period of two weeks.

The political tradition in Lebanon has always been for any new government to receive approval of all the major components of the Lebanese political scene in a system based on sectarian quotas, which has made the task of forming a new cabinet difficult and time consuming, taking several weeks or even months.

Lebanon’s economy is collapsing after decades of government waste, graft and soaring debt. With the country running out of dollars, Lebanon’s Central Bank helped support imports of fuel, wheat and medicine.

When asked about the situation, Aoun said: “We ask those in charge of money management, how did we reach this situation?”

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