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Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri outlined the stage of “open confrontation” with the tenure of President Michel Aoun, and more clearly with his son-in-law the Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

Hariri stressed he will not work again with Bassil unless he embraces moderate policies.

It became clear that Hariri was targeting the tenure, and Bassil in particular, while appeasing the “Shiite Duo”, meaning Amal Movement and Hezbollah party, by rejecting Sunni-Shiite strife. He asserted that this is a red line and Lebanon cannot enter into a Sunni-Shiite conflict.

Hariri was speaking with a number of journalists at his home in Beirut, noting that his final and clear position on the ongoing events will take shape by the beginning of the new year, questioning the current economic and financial situation.

Asked whether he thinks that the new government can be described as “government of Hezbollah”, Hariri answered that it is the government of Gebran Bassil.

“These are people I cannot work with anymore. He wants to run the country alone, and he must be moderate. How can you work with someone who is always insulting you? How can you work with such people whose speech is sectarian and racist?”

“My main demand was a government of specialists, and they rejected it,” said Hariri, adding that the stance taken by the Lebanese Forces led to his resignation, which in turn brought Prime Minister-designate Hassan Diab.

“I have paid the price of moderation at every stage of my life, which is the basis of my policy for 15 years. Had I not have defended it (the concept of moderation), Lebanon would have been in another place, especially with the Syrian crisis and its repercussions on Lebanon.”

He asserted that he does not regret his decision and his conscience is clear, indicating that his main concern was to preserve the stability and the economy of the country.

Hariri stated that they are now targeting “political Harirism” which they attack and hold responsible for every problem that struck the country.

“They want to blame everything on political Harirism. Let them try.”

After the assassination of Rafik Hariri, they thought people would leave the streets after three days, but this did not happen then, and it will not happen today, asserted Hariri.

Political Harirism brought stability, reconstruction, and major achievements to Lebanon, he stressed, adding: “Let’s see who stole the country, and I will not cover anyone, and they have to do the same.”

Hariri rejected accusations that he, alone, was behind the political settlement, asserting his belief that having a president against him is better than vacuum which destroys the country’s institutions.

“My candidate was Suleiman Franjieh, then they came and went towards President Aoun, and now they hold me responsible for the settlement that they (the Lebanese Forces) benefited from and were an essential part of.”

Hariri indicated that the Lebanese Forces accuse him of wanting the settlement and blame him for it, whereas “they are the basis for this settlement.” He also noted that Walid Jumblatt and Progressive Socialist Party have focused their attack on him and his party. 

The economic situation is very difficult and measures must be taken by a full government, said Hariri, noting that a caretaker government can only come up with solutions, but can’t implement them.

The reform paper approved by the government is no longer enough after the liquidity crisis and the country needs other measures that must be taken now, according to the PM.

He cautioned that the country has two or three months, and with the correct administration, the impact of the disaster can be alleviated.

Asharq Al Awsat

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