Since Tuesday, social media platforms in Lebanon have been flooded with tweets blasting Lebanese President Michel Aoun over a Sri Lankan tea donation that has been distributed instead to the presidential guards.
In response to the wave of outrage on social media, the presidency has issued a statement, addressing the controversial issue.
According to the statement, the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Beirut had informed the Lebanese Foreign Ministry, on August 11th, of a diplomatic shipment coming to Beirut.
The said shipment contained a thousand packages of special foodstuffs to be distributed free of charge in addition to 1,675 kilograms of Ceylon tea.
The presidency stated that the tea donation was “a gift to His Excellency President General Michel Aoun to express the solidarity and friendship between Sri Lanka and Lebanon.”
Moreover, on August 14th, the Lebanese Army Command informed the departments of the Presidential Palace that the shipment had arrived and “requested to receive the portion related to the donation to the President of the Republic, and that was done accordingly.”
Later, the presidency’s Information Office announced that, during the Sri Lankan ambassador’s visit to Baabda Palace on August 24th, President Aoun thanked her for presenting the donation consisting of foodstuffs and tea.
“However,” today’s statement noted, “an error that occurred in the news showed that the thanks were for the gift of tea only. Later, President Aoun sent a letter of thanks to his Sri Lankan counterpart.”
After having been received, “[the tea] was distributed to the soldiers in the Republican Guard Brigade in accordance with the custom of the President of the Republic to distribute gifts of food and supplies that reach him to the soldiers of the Brigade.”
With that said, the Information Office of the Lebanese President expressed surprise at how some commentators thought it to be excessive for the soldiers of the Brigade to get a pack of tea, “knowing that among them were those who had sustained damage by the explosion at Beirut Port, like other citizens.”