On the 27th day of the Lebanese anti-government protests and after two weeks of the government's resignation, president Michel Aoun addressed the nation for the third time through a televised interview on Al-Mayadeen TV channel in which he talked about the current situation.
President Michel Aoun initiated his interview by speaking about the ongoing protests, "The protests initially took place to demand economic change because of the taxes imposed on the Lebanese but, afterward, the demands switched to become political ones."
He went on adding that he did not receive any answer when he called for dialogue with the protesters a few weeks ago. To be fair here, protesters did respond to his public invitation on November 1st and were stopped to proceed in meeting him. The road to the palace was blocked to them.
In his interview now, President Aoun ascertained that his only objective as President is to build the state. He explained, "I do not want material achievements, and my experience in the military cost me 15 years of my life as I fought for freedom, sovereignty, and independence."
During the first phase of the interview, the president went on answering the questions asked by the two Lebanese journalists, stating the following points:
- "I am constrained by the contradictions of the government and the society; the people have become the basis for imposing reforms."
- "Using the slogan "Everyone means everyone" was a mistake, for it implies that there are no politicians with principles; whereas we have competent politicians who are capable of achieving advancement in our society."
- Formal consultations over new Prime Minister could start Thursday or Friday but we are still awaiting answers from others."
- A government must be formed to fight corruption, adopt an economic plan and prepare for a more comprehensive civil society."
- "When I was elected president, we provided security and stability because, without them, nothing can be built in the country; then we started building the institutions that were mismanaged and we want to improve them."
- "Political interference is the main reason for the corruption of the judiciary."
- Responding on whether a coup is being orchestrated to remove him from the presidency, the president stated it, "No, the citizens were tormented and I am looking for them."
- "I say before the world that I owe nothing to anyone except for the Lebanese who supported me and elected me without international support; the Lebanese were united within one government, but the protests prove that there is national unity."
- "I want to fight for the implementation of the majority of electoral systems, only in accordance with the Constitution."
In response to a question about the parliamentary consultations that have been delayed for 12 days now, President Aoun answered that they will take place Thursday and Friday. He stressed, "This is true and this is linked to the answers we will receive. And if we do not receive answers, we may be delayed many days."
Speaking about the formation of the new government and his opinion on the return of Gebran Bassil to the new government, the president stated the following:
- "Bassil is the one who should decide whether he will be part of the next government or not."
- "Circumstances forced him to be the foreign minister in the previous government and our democratic system does not prevent him from being a minister, especially since he is the head of the largest parliamentary bloc."
- "Next government must include both technocrats and politicians."
- On whether Hariri will be Prime Minister of the next government, the president said, "Until consultations are completed, I have nothing to say. This is something I cannot determine and Hariri has personal reasons for refusing to take back his position."
- In response to Geagea's demand to form a government of independent ministers, the president replied, "Where will I find them? On the moon?
Speaking about Hezbollah, president Aoun stated that the party "has not attacked Israel since 2006 and the party is committed to Resolution 1701; Nasrallah is a Lebanese citizen like any other, and the financial embargo is applied to him as it is with any other citizen."
On the sanctions against Hezbollah and the possibility of losing Cedar (The international conference for donors), President Aoun said, "No one can force me to get rid of a party that makes up one-third of the Lebanese." He stressed that "Hezbollah defends itself because it exists," assuring the Lebanese that "there will be no civil war in my era. At least, I will never accept that."
During this interview, the president asked: "Is there any revolution without a leader?" In regards to the financial crisis and the Lebanese rushing to the banks, he replied with the following statements:
- "I urge the Lebanese not to rush to the banks and aggravate the problem."
- "The Lebanese people's savings in the banks are safe."
- "I met with the banks and we took measures for the crisis, but we need the help of the Lebanese people."
- "The Governor of the Banque du Liban Riad Salameh expresses himself and his responsibility at work, and I believe him because it is not permissible to question all those responsible."
- "The dollar is not missing, but it is being taken out of deposits into homes and that is ruining the situation."
At the end of the interview, the president concluded by saying: "To protect the Lebanese economy, the Lebanese must return to their homes so that the life cycle can return to normal. Staying in the street and blocking roads leads to economic losses."
He then addressed the Lebanese people, asking them not to be negative. "Negativity generates adverse negativity and leads to clashes. The demands are right and we are working on them, but staying on the street hits Lebanon's interests." He added, "We will confront all those who choose not to work and, if the protests continue this way, there will be a catastrophe."
Upon the reactions on Social Media, claiming that President Aoun said: "If you don't like it, migrate" The statement was actually, "If there is nobody decent among you, you better migrate,".
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