Lebanon’s Aoun: protests show ‘people’s pain’, corruption charges not all fair

Get out Lebanese protesters tell the top 3 leaders of Lebanon
Get out,  Lebanese protesters tell the top 3 leaders of Lebanon

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said on Monday that protests gripping the country showed “people’s pain” but that accusing all politicians of corruption equally was not fair.

Aoun added that the government must at least start by lifting banking secrecy from current and future ministers, his office said in a tweet.

“What is happening in the streets expresses people’s pain, but generalizing corruption (charges) against everyone carries big injustice,” he said during a cabinet session.

His comments came as Lebanon’s cabinet is expected to approve reforms including halving ministers’ wages on Monday in a bid to ease an economic crisis and defuse protests that have been the biggest show of dissent against the ruling elite in decades.

Will reforms appease protesters?

Protesters blocked roads for a fifth day of demonstrations fuelled by the crippling economic conditions and anger at perceived corruption of the political elite that has led Lebanon into the crisis.

Officials told Reuters on Sunday that Prime Minister Saad Hariri had agreed a package of reforms with his government partners to tackle the crisis that has driven hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets.

In central Beirut, scene of the largest protest, people prepared for another day of demonstrations.

“If we get reforms, for a start it’s good, to calm down the storms, people are angry … but on the long term, I don’t know if it will make a change,” said Rida Jammoul, football coach, who was helping to clean-up in Beirut.

Another protester, Ziad Abou Chakra, said he would continue to protest until the government was toppled.

“We will stay here and we won’t open the roads whatever happens,” he said, manning a road block in the Zouk Mikhael area north of Beriut.

What does the reform plan offer?

The reform plan includes a 50% cut in salaries of current and former presidents, ministers and lawmakers, as well as reductions in benefits for state institutions and officials.

It also includes the central bank and private banks contributing $3.3 billion to achieve a “near zero deficit” for the 2020 budget.

The government also aims to privatise the telecommunications sector and overhaul the costly and crumbling electricity sector, one of the biggest strains on Lebanon’s depleted finances.

Hariri, who leads a coalition cabinet mired in sectarian and political rivalries, gave his feuding government a 72-hour deadline on Friday to agree reforms to ward off crisis, hinting he might otherwise resign. The deadline expires on Monday.

Calls mount for government to resign

A chorus of voices, from union leaders to politicians, has joined calls for Hariri’s government to resign.

The protests have spread across the country since Thursday.

Banks were closed on Monday and the main labour union went on strike, threatening further paralysis.

“The message to the politicians is don’t ever underestimate the power of the people because once they unite they will explode – peacefully,” said Hiba Dandachli, 36, a social entrepreneur who was helping to organise the clean-up.

“There are children, families, all from different religions and backgrounds,” she said.

“If the politicians learn from this they will learn how to lead the country much better.”

“Thieves”

Yesterday hundreds of thousands thronged public squares in the capital and across Lebanon  in the largest protests the country has seen since 2005, unifying an often divided public in revolt against traditional leaders who have ruled for three decades and brought the economy to the brink of disaster.

The target was clear: Lebanon’s sectarian-based and elite-dominated political system, which has mostly kept the peace since the 1975-1990 civil war but has also spawned political paralysis and endemic corruption. In Lebanon the president is a Maronite Christian, the parliament speaker a Shiite while the prime minister is a Sunni. Cabinet and parliament seats are equally divided between Christians and Muslims.

For the first time, protesters openly took aim at powerful sectarian leaders from their own communities, turning against warlords previously regarded as untouchable and challenging them in their own strongholds. The warlords have long guaranteed loyalty by styling themselves as their sect’s protectors and passing out patronage to its members.

“They (politicians) have been stealing from the people for 30 years. They stole and stole and stole and they still don’t have enough,” said Claire Abu Rached, protesting with her two sons, aged 10 and 8, north of Beirut.

“Thieves, thieves, thieves” the protesters in Beirut and elsewhere chanted, naming almost every senior Lebanese politician, cursing them or demanding they step down.

“People cannot take it anymore,” said Nader Fares, a protester in central Beirut who said he’s unemployed. “There are no good schools, no electricity and no water.”

AGENCIES

 

 

  • MaryTPresumptuous

    Yes, Aoun,you are right .. accusing you and your son-in-law of corruption far more than other politicians is what the people on the street mean for you to understand, among other protest grievances. You sold the country to Nasrallah, Hezbollah and the Iranians. And that has been Lebanon’s undoing .. YOU BOTH have activity caused Lebanon’s undoing more so than other politicians.

    • Arzna

      Mary bravo !!! you nailed it.
      He led the way in stealing 30 years ago and God knows how much he and the little Bassil have received from Iran for selling Lebanon.
      Unfortunately once the banking secrecy is lifted , all his money and the money of all the thieves will be in Swiss bank accounts . His comment about the bank secrecy was a hint to all the corrupt politicians to get their money out . This is Salameh’s golden opportunity to stop all the stolen money from leaving the country on Tuesday and use it to pay off the sovereign debt

      • Hind Abyad

        Brilliant Arzna;-) “What protests in Lebanon, Chile, and Ecuador have in common.
        The chaos in Chile has been shocking in large part because of the country’s belt-tightening policies imposed under a deal with the IMF.”

        The IMF said last week that Lebanon’s crisis requires tough austerity …

      • Omega

        He led the way in stealing 30 years ago

        Was that between 1975 and 1990 when the civil war destroyed Lebanon or when he was in exile between 1990 and 2005 for opposing Syria in Lebanon? In other words: do you ever think before you write?

        The mass looting of Lebanon began under Rafik Hariri and his “economic policies” (1992-1998) which culminated before he met his maker in front of the Saint George Yatch Club and Marina in Beirut. I am sure you’ve seen the “Stop Solidere” sign. The Solidere project that gang raped the Lebanese people in not only stealing their lands and plunging the country’s national debt into the abyss. That is not to say other parties did not participate in the stealing during that time and furthermore between 2005 and 2017 where no budget was in place.

        • Hind Abyad

          Nobody comes here only Israelis.. Niaismal appears when i come. Arzna aka Arzatna is the only Lebanese.. (Lebanese? Not sure)

          I remember the sh’it Hariri father created in Beyrouth, was it his son the problematic Garbage company?

          “Au Liban, il y a les “pro” et les “anti-Solidere”: pour les uns c’est la compagnie qui a reconstruit un Beyrouth ravagé par la guerre, pour les autres c’est un ogre immobilier qui a détruit l’héritage de la capitale et exproprié ses habitants.”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f4506a70c9a1edf44b8b644c6622b4bc5154a2c1dc552a70ffdbc181f8561555.png

    • Hind Abyad

      Are you Lebanese?

    • Niemals
  • Y K

    Where’s the “Resister” crowd to explain this is all the fault of the Jooz?

  • Hind Abyad

    Remember i posted this on YaLibnan in 2011.
    “Christians of the Orient stand up against the new Western colonialism”

    In September Zionist President Sarkozy told Al Rai
    “Take your people for an Exodus to Europe Western Powers will invade the Middle Eas in November”
    Russia and China vetoed the resolution in extremis.
    Western Jihadis entered Syria via Turkey.

    First raped cut in peaces by “Rebels” were Syrian Christians in Homs, Christian Province in Syria, Moslem Brothehood and Jihadis from 75 foreing countries, funded by Saudi Arabia.
    https://www.voltairenet.org/article171673.html
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/69db10e33267e7c2835097040169c07f418b59443d75949e9f787be816073001.png