| 6 December 2023, Wednesday |

“Sawa Li Lubnan will defy conventions, its leader will be a Christian,” says Bahaa Hariri

Jabalna Magazine wrote the following:

Bahaa Rafic Hariri, a businessman residing abroad, confirmed in his first media appearance following the official launch of the “Sawa Li Lubnan” movement in Lebanon that his project through “Sawa” is a national project, not a sectarian one.

“I am proud to belong to the Sunni sect, but above all I am proud to be Lebanese,” Hariri said in an interview with the website “Jabalna Magazine”: “I seek to break taboos through “Sawa Li Lubnan” and its composition and the nature of the democratic political work that it will undertake, and I will not interfere in its activities. However, I have recommended that its first president be of Christian sect.”

In response to a question, Bahaa Hariri stated that Lebanon has always been in his heart, which is why he and his partners made $800 million in investments in Lebanon in recent years before he had any interest in entering politics. “Despite my physical absence in Lebanon, I was able to achieve serious achievements, including of course the establishment of “Nuh Humanitarian Foundation” and then “Sawt Beirut International SBI,” he said, adding that “a few days ago we launched the “Sawa” political action movement.”

Concerning the “Sawa” movement, he stated that what distinguishes it is its independence, as he will not be its chairman or the head of any committee in it, despite being its founder, sponsor, and sole financier, and that “what we sought through it is to achieve a democratic model that is not controlled by a person, but by the head of Sawa.

According to Bahaa Hariri, “Sawa” will have a board of trustees comprised of forty individuals from all Lebanese sects and regions, “and they have a good reputation and high experience, each in his field of competence, and there will be eight committees within the movement, including the Constitutional and Legal Committee, which will study ways to implement the Taif Agreement and fight corruption.”

He devised a comprehensive strategy for establishing an independent judiciary. This committee will be led by Judge Hatem Madi, and the Political Bureau will be made up of the heads of the committees. I will never interfere with any decisions made by committees, or even the president to be elected by a committee of Board of Trustees members. But all I strongly advised him was that the leader of the Sawa movement be a Christian, with the goal of breaking down barriers.”

“Lebanon be free, sovereign, and independent, adopting the principle of neutrality called for by Patriarch Al Rahi and discussed with him when I met him in Rome, and for Lebanon to restore good and distinguished relations with the Arab and Gulf countries, and things return to normal between Lebanon and the international community, since Lebanon has become today,” he said.

Vote against them!

Bahaa Hariri rejected calls to boycott the elections, saying that voting is “the only way to change,” and that “we insist on holding them and call on citizens to participate and vote against them.” He stated that in the next two weeks, he will announce Sawa’s election strategy and who it will support.

“I was saddened by the revolution’s failure to achieve unified lists in the elections,” he said, “but I refuse to call it disappointment.” We will not only back the sovereigns in these elections, but also those who claim that we – Muslims and Christians – want Lebanon to progress. We will continue to work to unite the revolution’s voice.”

“What we are working on now is not for May 15, but for May 16 and beyond,” Hariri added. As a result, after the elections, we will work as the Sawa movement with any team – of course from outside the system – that has a project to fight corruption, for example, or the implementation of Taif, the independence of the judiciary, an integrated economic project, or anything we agree with.

“I consider Cardinal Al Rahi to be my spiritual father,” he said of his relationship with Bkerke. “At the end of the meeting, I jokingly told him (yes, I am a Sunni Muslim, but this is a Maronite marriage) that communication with Bkerke is constant. We agreed that our relationship would be built on honesty and integrity.”

My father and I see eye to eye, unlike my brother Saad

When asked what he wants for Lebanon and what he learned from his father, martyred Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, he said, “I want Lebanon to recover, its people to live, and its dignity to be restored. What I want for the country is what my father wanted for it, which is for it to be free and independent. What I want is to continue Rafik Hariri’s career, and I share his opinions and ideas.”

“My brother I love and respect him,” he said of his brother, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, “and the family has its own sanctity.” But there is a significant difference in our perspectives and beliefs.”

Regarding the International Tribunal for the assassination of his father, he said: “I was very happy with the recent decision of the Court of Appeal, which issued a judgment stipulating that the two members of Hezbollah were involved in the assassination of my father, especially since the decision was taken unanimously and it proved without any doubt that these people and behind them Hezbollah were involved in the execution of the crime.”

Close visit to US and meetings with the community

While Hariri used a portion of the dialogue to discuss the diaspora and their role, he apologized for not communicating with the spread in previous years, but he announced that he will visit the United States this month, where he will hold a number of meetings with the Lebanese community, promising that he will be closer to the Lebanese expatriates in the future.

According to Hariri, “the Lebanese expatriate was betrayed and lost his money in Lebanon.” Today, before we ask an expatriate to come and save the country, we must first offer them a worthy homeland.”

“I am one of these expatriates, and I, like others, am waiting to see stability, security and a democratic system. As you know, most of the Lebanese expatriates do not live in China or Russia, but in Western countries, which are open democratic countries where law and accountability prevail. If Lebanon can give the expatriate peace of mind and become a democratic and open country with accountability and an anti-corruption campaign, and you can rest assured if you invest in it, and enjoy the independence of the judiciary, then we can say to the Lebanese expatriate, “We have given you all the ingredients, so go ahead and invest in your country.”

“I am one of these expatriates, and like many others. I am hoping for stability, security, and a democratic system,” Hariri concluded.

  • Sawt Beirut International