| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

President Aoun: It has become necessary for words to be clearer

President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, affirmed that “From my position as the custodian of the constitution, I call for an urgent national dialogue in order to reach an understanding on three issues, and to work towards their approval later within the institutions, namely:

Expanded administrative and financial decentralization.

– The defense strategy to protect Lebanon.

-A plan for financial and economic recovery, including the necessary reforms and a fair distribution of losses.

The President also clarified that he had called for more than one meeting and conference and proposed solutions, but the people of the organization refused to give up any gain, and did not take any account for the people, reiterating his call to dialogue for every Lebanese woman and man who desires the salvation of Lebanon.

The President indicated that “In spite of everything, the solution is possible within the national reconciliation document, and it requires first accountability, that is, determining responsibility for the collapse, protecting people’s money and returning it to depositors”.

“The solution also requires moving to a civil state, and a new system whose main foundation is expanded administrative and financial decentralization, and the upcoming parliamentary elections should constitute a referendum on this basis” President Aoun said.

In addition, President Aoun stressed that “Defending the homeland requires cooperation between the army, the people and the resistance, but the primary responsibility is for the state. Only the state sets the defense strategy and ensures its implementation”.

Moreover, the President called for an end to the deliberate, systematic and unjustified disruption, which leads to the dismantling of institutions and the dissolution of the state, and to the striking of the Constitutional Council, and the overthrow of the financial recovery plan and the disruption of the government and obstruction of laws in the House of Representatives, while dismantling and dissolution sacrificed the judiciary.

President Aoun asked: “By what Sharia, logic or constitution, the cabinet is suspended, and it is asked to take a decision that is not within its powers, and its work is suspended due to an issue that does not constitute a charter dispute?”.

President Aoun added that the government should work, and the parliament should monitor its work and hold it accountable when necessary, and not contribute to its disruption, while some officials are working to continue its paralysis.

Speech Text:

Address to the nation

by His Excellency the President of the Lebanese Republic

General Michel Aoun

Baabda, December 27, 2021

My fellow Lebanese ladies and gentlemen,

I have heard much reproach: why doesn’t the “General” speak out? Why doesn’t the President speak out? I have spoken out indeed but without wanting to further complicate the problem.

Today, it has become imperative to speak in a clearer manner because the risks are growing and threatening the nation’s unity; and the preparations we are witnessing in the region make the problems all the more obvious.

Throughout my years in office, I preferred to tackle the crises with silent action. Sometimes I succeeded while some other times I fell short.

I tried to prevent the collapse, I called for many meetings and conferences, I proposed solutions, but the stakeholders of the ‘establishment’ refused to give up any gain and did not take people’s interests into account.

When the collapse occurred, I proposed dialogue to the Lebanese who took to the streets, but they also refused and hid behind the slogan of “all of them means all of them”. Today, I reiterate my call for dialogue, to every single fellow Lebanese woman or man who longs for the country’s salvation.

In 1990, my attachment to Lebanon’s unity, sovereignty, independence and freedom made me counter the projects of hegemony over the State. Nevertheless, the external and internal interests colluded and prevailed. For 15 years, the country was governed without sovereignty and partnership, and with corruption, by a political and financial establishment. When I came back in 2005, I adopted a positive approach and I proposed to address issues based on the constitution that was adopted in Taef.

The collapse happened and I did not give in, nor shall I ever do in, as I consider that, against all odds, the solution is still possible from within the National Entente Document. The solution requires first accountability, which means defining responsibilities in the collapse, protecting people’s assets and returning them to depositors. It also requires to move to a Civil State and to embrace a new system whose main pillar is broad administrative and financial decentralization. The upcoming parliamentary elections must serve as a referendum in this respect.

It is true that defending the nation requires cooperation between the Army, the people and the resistance, but the major responsibility befalls the State. The State alone puts up the defense strategy and attends to its implementation.

Before we come to this point, the unjustified, deliberate and systematic blockage which dismantles the State and drives it to its demise must stop.

You ask me: “where is there blockage?” In turn, I ask: “where isn’t there blockage”?

– Blockage of the Constitutional Council: When the most important constitutional tribunal falls apart for being incapable of taking a decision about an obvious constitutional text such as article 57 of the Constitution, this means that blockage has affected the Constitutional Council. Unfortunately, it has become known who is behind the blockage: the blockers know themselves and they have become known by people as well.

– Thwarting the financial recovery plan which was laid by the previous government, delayed the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, thus making the solution more costly while people’s losses are increasing. Unless there is a plan, a clear identification and a fair distribution of losses, there is no international support, which means that blockage is jeopardizing people’s interests.

– Blockage in the cabinet is responsible for the paralysis in the administration, while civil servants are awaiting their rights, hospitals are awaiting their dues, and patients are awaiting their treatment.

Who is responsible for the absence of last year’s budget? And what shall become of this year’s budget? Who obstructed the forensic audit? Does procrastination aim at dissimulating or covering the holders of the looted or wasted billions?

Who is responsible for hindering dialogue with Syria for the return of the Syrian displaced?

I am keen on the best relations with the Arab States, and precisely with the Gulf countries, and I ask: “what is the reason for tautening the relation with these countries and meddling in affairs that are none of our business?

– Blockage in the House of Representatives contributes to dismantling the State. The Capital Control law was supposed to be passed two years and two months ago, and to help save the financial situation. What has become of the law on the recovery of assets that were transferred outside the country? Where is the law on denouncing the corrupt and unveiling the accounts and properties of public service officers? Where is the law on old-age insurance? Why the delay in finalizing reform laws?

Could anyone explain to me why the Parliament has not responded to my successive calls for the adoption of laws that serve the citizens? Where are these laws? Is their place in drawers and committees only?

– Dismantling and disintegration have reached the Judiciary and have doomed it: The judicial transfers consecrated confessionalism in positions, violated laws and did not use unified standards for competence, seniority, entitlement and grades.

How do you want me to sign such scandalous transfers? Furthermore, the citizens’ files are piling up in courtrooms waiting for a decision to be taken about them. But the most dangerous is that the whole judiciary is paralyzing itself, or being paralyzed and prevented from judging, holding accountable and imposing sanctions.

– Fiscal control: why the delay in ratifying the closure of the State accounts since 1997? Has anyone been enquired or penalized about it?

My dearly beloved,

The paralyzing of institutions has become an approach per se, and its consequence is wrecking the State. There remains a question: Do the Lebanese still agree on the unity of the State? Or has the system fallen and each one is seeking their own interest? At a time when solutions are drawing near in the region, the solution in Lebanon is slipping away… and this is unacceptable.

Not tomorrow, today, it is imperative that the cabinet meets and remedies to the problems in the Council of Ministers. By which law, by which logic, by which constitution is the Council of Ministers blocked, asked to make a decision that does not fall within its powers, and having its action frozen over an issue that does not represent a pact-related disagreement?

The government must function, the Parliament must oversee its work and hold it accountable when needed, and not contribute to its blockage, while some officials strive to perpetrate its paralysis.

It is a crime to dismantle the State, paralyze it and let it fall apart. They started to block projects from electricity, petrol, water, telecommunications and others… and they ended up blocking the State institutions and the Constitution.

I am entrusted with the Constitution and the law, and it is my duty to speak frankly to the Lebanese people: we must stay as one nation and one State, but we must learn from experience, and amend the governing mode in order for the State to become viable.

Broad administrative and financial decentralization is the headline; accountability, judgement, and audit are the conditions to close the accounts of the past and return to people their rights and assets.

Lebanon must remain an intersection of dialogue between cultures, and not a land of conflicts.

My fellow Lebanese,

As you are waiting and enduring pain, hunger and fear… the world’s countries are waiting for us to initiate dialogue with the IMF in order to help us.

I do not wish to quarrel with anyone, neither individuals nor sides, and I do not wish to break the unity of any confession. Yet, we have to be candid: marking time is fatal, and I shall not accept to watch silently as the State is falling apart and people are choking. I shall keep striving till the last day of my presidential tenure and the last day of my life.

The solution lies in dialogue and peaceful means, and it starts with the meeting and functioning of the Council of Ministers and all State institutions.

From my position as keeper of the Constitution, I call for an urgent national dialogue to come to terms about three issues to be adopted later within the institutions, namely:

– broad administrative and financial decentralization;

– the defense strategy to protect Lebanon.

– the financial and economic recovery plan, including the necessary reforms and the fair distribution of losses.

My dearly beloved,

Ever since I stepped into the sphere of public affairs and public services, my battle has been the battle of building the State. This has been my dream since I was a cadet at the Military Academy, and it has accompanied me all my life.

Without a State, Lebanon does not exist. The continuity of building a State has foundations: Constitution, laws and institutions. This is what guarantees the constancy of the State, and this is the demand of every Lebanese, resident or expatriate.

The demand is one: the rise of the State.

Our people are capable of building a State and building economy; our potentials are huge, our greatest treasure being our human resources. Nevertheless, a State is built by observing laws and not by exceeding the limit of power, nor by the hegemony of one branch over the other.

A State means law and stability at the same time; let no one ask the Lebanese to choose between the two.

My dearly beloved,

It is very easy to criticize the President of the Republic… to fire at him on a daily basis, to target the presidency itself, and even underrate its prerogatives in the House of Representatives – as it was lately the case with article 57 of the Constitution. It very easy to hear some voices hold the President responsible, while his prerogatives are so limited that he is even incapable of compelling the Council of Ministers to meet.

But I ask you and the media circles, faithfully: why isn’t the truth told? Why are the facts falsified? People have the right to access the truth rather than lies and rumors.

Today, as this year comes to an end, I wanted to speak to you openly… and I do hope that I will not need to say more.

Long live Lebanon!

  • Sawt Beirut International