That decision was taken after a meeting of the Council of Ministers held in Baabda under the chairmanship of the Head of State, Michel Aoun, and which de facto puts Lebanon in default, a first in the history of the country.
Justifying this choice, the Prime Minister explained, in a speech addressed to the Lebanese, that the foreign reserves of the Bank of Lebanon reached a critical level.
He went on to blame the acute crisis (which crosses the country to the only economic model and financial post-war) on what sounded like a criticism of the political and economic Harirism that prevailed in the nineties.
Without announcing concrete reform measures capable of redressing the country, Mr. Diab therefore delivered a purely technical speech, knowingly obscuring the eminently political dimension of the chronic crises that continue to shake Lebanon.
He thus returned the ball to the camp of the “economic elite”, while many local protagonists as well as the international partners of Lebanon are aware that the problem is also political.
If the head of government continues to display his determination to carry out the reforms demanded by the international community, does he have the political means or the ability to evoke policy?
Opposition circles believe that the government remains under the thumb of its sponsors and the “majority” in the House.
Leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, Walid Joumblatt, tells the press: “Apart from the decision not to pay the Eurobonds, Hassan Diab’s speech is devoid of any content.”
He noted that the head of government “accuses the actors of the past period of being responsible for the crisis when some of them are part of his government” in reference to the Shiite tandem.
“He could have announced some reform measures, notably in the area of electricity, but he omitted them,” added Joumblatt.
These words came just a few days after a call launched by the leader of Moukhtara on his Twitter account to “support the government, beyond all other considerations, because the [governmental] vacuum will lead us all into the unknown”.
Today, Walid Joumblatt seems more than ever convinced of his position as an opponent.
According to Asharq Al-Awsat, Joumblatt said on Twitter: “What is this government hiding? Its president did not mention a word about reform… [What about] the electricity sector, protecting the industry, controlling legal and illegal borders, ignoring the coronavirus, judicial appointments… and others?”
He took it even a step further, accusing the government of “spreading bankruptcy.”
According to him, “the Prime Minister is surrounded by certain famous former officers of the previous period, and by the Free Patriotic Movement.”
“We are in opposition. The regime is becoming more and more totalitarian,” he insisted, without hiding his fears about the nationalization of private companies, especially banks.
He went on to add: “This is only the beginning for the banks,” assuring that he does not defend these financial institutions in any way.
Detailing the reasons for the current crisis, he recalls that “the Bank of Lebanon was forced to lend money to a bankrupt state. The clique in power will become more wicked to lead Lebanon to the unknown East (in allusion to the Syrian-Iranian axis) instead of keeping it in a balance between East and West,” he insisted.
Similar to Walid Joumblatt, Kataeb leader Sami Gemayel quickly criticized Diab’s speech. He suggested that he was not up to the severity of the current crisis.
On his Twitter account, Gemayel wrote: “No legal measures, no rapid and immediate reforms, no economic and social rescue measures, nor measures to circumvent the fallout from the decision [to default on payment]. We only heard the bankruptcy of Lebanon and the fall of the BDL reserves in foreign currencies.”