On Sunday, Gebran Bassil called for the nation to agree on a new political system in Lebanon, saying that no state institution was capable of implementing reforms needed to save the country from collapse.
“If neither the Cabinet, the Parliament, nor the judiciary can go through with reform, then it means our system has failed and needs reform,” Bassil said, demanding rounds of a national dialogue to agree on a new governing system in Lebanon before the country collapses under the weight of current crises.
The head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the largest bloc in Parliament also said his group did not want to take part in the new government being formed by Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri.
“In brief, we have no desire or wish to take part in the government,” Bassil said in a televised speech.
“We have remained silent until now in the face of accusations and lies so that we don’t hamper the formation of the new government, but that’s it. Once again, we were wrong to stay silent and not tell people how things are being done in the country.”
Bassil went on to attack Hariri, saying that he can name Sunni ministers but not the Shiite ministers on behalf of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, nor the Druze ministers on behalf of the Progressive Socialist Party.
“How did Hariri conclude that he has the right to name the Christian ministers on behalf of the president and Christians?” He said, which brings to mind that his stance is not a simple religious/sectarian defense but about nominating Christians that he and his political party want.
After all, based on Bassil’s own statements, it doesn’t appear that the PM designated to form the new government has excluded the Christians but disregarding to nominate FPM partisans.
Bassil threw an accusatory question that is ambiguous in this case and not little inciting to religious sentiments, saying: “Does he deem us [the Christians] second-rate citizens?”
Bassil went further blaming Hariri for the crippling economic crisis, saying that he could not be trusted to implement reforms. It is to note that Bassil was one of the main players in the successive governments that failed the nation, heading three successive ministries.
Notably, he was the Minister of Telecommunications from 2008 to 2009, the Minister of Energy and Water from 2009 to 2014, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants from 2014 to January 2020.
Upon Bassil’s fervent attack against the PM-designate, Hariri’s Future Movement struck back, accusing the FPM’s leader of seeking “sectarian and racist” criteria in the government formation process.
“The Future Movement leaves it to the Lebanese people to believe or not believe Minister Bassil. We, as a movement, will not enter into political recriminations that will neither bring to the country vaccines against the coronavirus, or the economic wheel back on the right path, nor rebuild Beirut and compensate those affected by the port explosion,” the party said in its statement
Hariri’s efforts to form a new government haven’t been fruitful as demands by President Michel Aoun for a role in naming ministers as well as demands from Bassil to hold veto power are putting the process in a deadlock.
Yet, in his most recent speech, the FPM leader denied he had any specific demands other than the formation process proceeding according to a “unified standard.”
Furthermore, in an audio leaked by local media of a meeting between Aoun and caretaker PM Diab, the president is heard denying that Hariri presented him with any line-up draft, accusing him of lying.
“He’s saying he gave me a paper – he lies… He made lying statements,” Aoun said about Hariri.
To make matters more confusing, the Future Movement stated the complete opposite in its statement:
“The government lineup is ready, and waiting for the president so that it can be a mission government to carry out the required reforms according to the French initiative, not according to Bassil’s sectarian, confessional, and racist criteria.”
“This is what we are concerned with and nothing else no matter how skillful they are in creating obstacles and producing divisive issues.”
As the FPM leader continues to accuse Hariri of treating Aoun as “a chief clerk” in the Cabinet formation process, and Aoun accusing Hariri of lying, Lebanon continues to plunge deeper into a dreadful economic and health crisis with no progress in the government formation whatsoever.
At this point, people are just waiting for these politicians who are holding the fate of the country in their hands to act more responsibly and set their feud aside.