Businessman Sheikh Baha Rafik Hariri announced from Washington that he had held several meetings in the United States with officials from the US administration and members of Congress, and discussed with them several major topics mainly the upcoming Parliamentary Elections in Lebanon.
Hariri stated that Washington has issued two major decisions recently, the first is related to Lebanon’s security, which is supporting the army and security institutions, and the second is a political decision which is imposing sanctions on corrupted Lebanese figures including Jamil al-Sayyid and Jihad al-Arab. He considered that the United States’ position means that the current system in Lebanon cannot sustain anymore.
Hariri spoke on Thursday with Lebanese journalists in Washington, stressing that “the elections will be the political downfall of this system that caused the economic and financial meltdown in Lebanon,” stating that the recent diplomatic rift with the Gulf countries proved the system’s inability to manage the situation.”
Hariri added: “The Parliamentary elections in Lebanon will be held in May, and main regional changes will take place from now until holding the elections.”
He said: “Despite the Syrian and Hezbollah’s presence in 2005, we were able to win the elections, and as a result of that the Syrian army left Lebanon. After holding elections, a new government with a new agenda will be formed and will prioritize the execution of what has not yet been implemented from the ‘Taif Agreement’. Hariri expressed his gladness with the Saudi-French statement that reiterated the importance of Taif and the implementation of international resolutions, which he saw as a radical change in the French position that did not address these two issues in the past.
Hariri added: “The mutual statement meant that “Lebanon is not left alone, but it is required to organize its affairs, implement the reforms, and hold the elections.” He reiterated that “change will only take place by holding the Parliamentary elections.
In response to a question by “Jabalna Magazine” about how the situation would be if elections were not held or if the right of expatriates to vote was violated, Hariri said: “The authority in Iraq was refusing to held the elections, but it took place despite all rejections. We are required to commence our work and prepare for the elections, and I am confident that many changes will take place at the regional level from now till May.” He said that when the Lebanese civil war finished, elections took place despite the militias’ opposition, and today the whole international community needs the elections to be held, and this is a demand that political rulers cannot bypass.”
Regarding Lebanese expatriates, Hariri said: “This is a vital issue and I am happy with the remarkable number of Lebanese who have registered to vote, and I am ready to assist in this regard. We will be founding a fund to cover the ticket expenses for every expatriate who wants to go to vote in Lebanon. Despite these grants, I will not force anyone to vote for specific lists or figures, I just want people to go and vote.”
During his meeting with journalists, Hariri announced that his decision to enter politics emerged after the Beirut Port blast. He said: “We developed a plan and launched “Sawt Beirut International” platform to broadcast political and economic news as well as entertainment programs, then we established “Nuh Foundation” to keep pace with humanitarian work, and “Sawa Li Lubnan” organization to support and stand behind figured keen to change, without interfering with naming the candidate in the parliamentary elections.”
Hariri confirmed to “Jabalna Magazine” that “Sawa Li Lubnan” will not turn into a party and will not take the place of the Future Movement. He added that he will not close the door in front of anyone except those who have no integrity.
Hariri said: “I hate politics and I will not run the elections personally, but I will be present through ‘Sawa Li Lubnan’ to serve everyone who wants change.” He stressed that the work of all these institutions “is not linked to or restricted to any sect, as were were grown up on these principles, and that’s what we learned from my father Martyr Rafik Hariri.”
Hariri considered that “Hezbollah’s strength has started to weaken, as it gets its strength from the regional equation surrounding it, and this regional equation is clearly turning upside down, and we see what is happening recently between Iran and Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and Iraq.” Hariri shed the light on the paramount importance of the changes taking place in Iraq, as the parameters of change became clear after the recent elections.
Regarding the Lebanese-Gulf relations, he said: “I believe that crises would ease after it intensify.” Hariri considered that the Gulf countries want to see internal change happening in Lebanon. “The Arab and Western countries want the elections to be held, and Gulf countries want to see Lebanon again within the Arab embrace. This pressure exerted on Lebanon is for awareness purposes only, and what they have did nothing in front of what they can do, so imagine if they demanded the withdrawal of deposits from banks, for example,” Hariri said.
Hariri concluded that “what happened made citizens confident that the situation cannot continue as it is, but rather we must move for change. Today, the Parliamentary elections are approaching, and we have to prove that we want change and that this reality is not accepted anymore.”