At the end of the first half of the presidential term, the president of the Lebanese republic just addressed the Lebanese in a televised live speech, speaking about the achievements he has done, and still working on, as well as the formation of the new government.
President Aoun initiated his speech by saying: “The great People of Lebanon, I am addressing you today as the first half of my presidential tenure has come to an end. I address you today to present to you a sort of “statement of account” that features what has been achieved, what has not been achieved, and what I am still working to achieve with the set plans and the difficulties we are facing.”
“This statement of account has become all the more necessary after the movement of demonstrations and sit-ins that have recently taken place and have resulted in the resignation of the government,” he said
He went on adding that in his inaugural speech, he has committed to providing “security, political and economic stability, eradicate terrorism, implement National Accord, finalize an electoral law that guarantees fair representation of all components of the people, ensure the return of displaced Syrians, and fight corruption.
According to president Aoun: His First Step was to work on security stability and fighting terrorism because, as he stated, “it is the foundation of any other stability.” He revealed that they “have taken the necessary political decision, the new postings in the army and security organs have led to joining forces, uprooting terrorist organizations, and eradicating their sleeper cells. And that was the first step.”
The Second Step “was ensuring political stability, knowing that the first of its obligations was the adoption of an electoral law that guarantees fair representation. Despite all the accumulated difficulties, this law was enacted. And after a difficult “labor,” the new Parliament produced a national unity government in which all the components of our society were duly represented […]”.
The Third Step, as he stated, was “to deal with paralysis in many of the State institutions through a set of appointments, and by activating the role of these institutions that was missing for years and, in this framework, came the recent judicial appointments and the judicial reform, which is a sustainable process, because the judiciary purifies itself on its own if the politicians keep their hands off it.”
The Fourth Step was “down the path of bringing public finance back under the Constitution and the Public Accountancy Act, whereas three budgets have been passed after 12 years of discontinuation and random expenditure in contradiction with the Constitution. And the 2020 Budget has also been forwarded to Parliament within the constitutional deadline for the first time in a while […].”
The fifth step, “rather the fifth problem,” as President Aoun emphasized, “was the pressing economic crisis entailed by an accumulation of inappropriate economic and financial policies, and rampant waste and corruption, coupled with the crises and wars of the surroundings.”
He also insisted that “the first item on the government’s agenda should be the adoption of oil and gas extraction decrees, and drilling will begin within two months, which will provide Lebanon with an economic outlet in the long term.”
Speaking about the economic handlings, President Aoun revealed that he has exerted great efforts yet they didn’t give the desired solution, stating that “the government resigned, and this heavy file awaits the new government that must put it on the right and fast track.”
He also added, “I called for finding an appropriate solution to the return of the displaced Syrians to their country, but I received an answer that it was linked to a political solution for the Syrian crisis, and Lebanon is now paying the price for this refusal.”
In regards to the current issues, the president addressed the citizens who have taken part in protests, especially the youth by saying, “Despite all the noise that tried to strangle, disrupt, or divert your true voice, you have succeeded in making your voice heard; this voice which loudly claimed a trustful government, a fight against corruption that has eroded the State and its institutions for many decades, and a modern civil State free from confessionalism and quotas.”
As for the formation of the new government, he stressed, “Forming a government in Lebanon is usually subject to many balances, which explains the repeated failures and lack of quick conclusions in a number of projects.”
He added, “Today, we are about to have a new government, and the sole consideration required this time is that this government lives up to the aspirations of the Lebanese people, earns their confidence and that of their representatives in Parliament, and manages to achieve what the previous government was incapable of, namely restoring the people’s confidence in their State.”
He went on insisting that “ministers in the new cabinet must be chosen by capabilities and expertise, not political affiliations or to please leaders.”
In reference to corruption, President Aoun revealed that “Fighting corruption is a continuous and hard work,” and that he is “determined to do it, and to implement the existing laws before adopting the necessary legislation to enhance transparency and provide accountability to all.”
He also insisted on the importance and need of shifting from “the prevailing confessional system to the modern civil State, addressing the protesters with, “Your voice in the squares, calling for the civil State, is a promising step because the first pillar for the civil State is its popular acceptance since it cannot be imposed. And if imposed, it will definitely fail,” stating that “there is a relentless action ahead of them […]”.
In the end, the president called on the Lebanese nation to: “Put pressure on your representatives in the Parliament to approve the laws on the establishment of a special tribunal for crimes against public funds, the National Authority for Combating Corruption.”
“Put pressure on MPs to also approve laws related to lifting the immunity and banking secrecy of current and former officials, and returning looted funds,” he concluded. Minutes after his speech, his Twitter account tweeted the following:
لشباب لبنان أقول: لطالما كنتم نواة شعب لبنان العظيم وقلبه النابض ولطالما كان إيماني بكم كبيرا وبقوة التغيير التي تمثلون لبنان اليوم يمر بأزمة حادة، ولكننا شعب لا تضعفه الأزمات.. وعبور هذه الأزمة هو مسؤوليتنا جميعا، فلا تسمحوا لأحلامكم أن تتهاوى أمام توظيف من هنا واستغلال من هناك
In his tweet, he warned, “I address all leaders and officials: As far as popular and spontaneous movements are right and contribute to correct some tracks, the exploitation of the street in exchange for another street is the most dangerous that could threaten the unity of the homeland and civil peace, and I am sure that no one can carry on his conscience the destruction of the structure.”