| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

Republican Palace, or electoral office?

When Hezbollah-Amal duo disrupted the cabinet sessions due to refusing the judicial investigator in the Beirut port explosion case, Judge Tarek Bitar, the most demands for resuming the sessions came from the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, and the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil. These demands made some believe that the discrepancy between Baabda and Mirna Chalouhi on the one hand, and Haret Hreik on the other hand, may reach an extent that poses a threat to Mar Mkhael’s understanding. It also made them believe that the movement, along with the President of the Republic, are concerned about the interests of the people, and for this reason they insist on resuming the cabinet sessions.

But it seems that there is something behind these practices, as Bassil needs the sessions of the Council of Ministers to pass some decisions that he can leverage from in the parliamentary elections.

These decisions include decree 8815 dated February 22nd, which canceled part of the planning of Batroun Road, which is known as the law of lifting state ownership of real estate previously purchased to build or expand a road.

Whoever examines the previous decrees, finds that the Council for Development and Reconstruction agreed three years ago to cancel the planning, but it was revived before the elections to be placed in the “achievements” of Gebran Bassil, to leverage from it electorally in the polls. After enacting this decision, Bassil hastened to write a tweet, in which he stated: “..the injustice against our people must be lifted after years of their demands; It was necessary to follow up the decree and cancel it. Congrats”.

This “electoral bribery” in Batroun was not an orphan. In a subsequent session of the Council of Ministers, a similar decision was issued, but for the northern Metn, which was also an “Electoral bribery” in favor of one of the movement’s MPs.

MP Eddy Maalouf wrote, “After years of follow-up that started with MP Nabil Nicolas (a former deputy in the movement), we say congratulations to the rightful people. The Council of Ministers approved the proposal of the President to cancel the decree of the ring road extending from Khalde to Dbayeh, known as the Ecochard project, and to oblige official references to write off planning signals and liberate the properties.”

Thus, the candidates of FPM in Batroun and in northern Metn congratulate those who have the right. What is this called an electoral bribery? Batroun lands have been expropriated since 1991, and the Council for Development and Reconstruction agreed to cancel the expropriation in July 2019, so why the decision was issued only two months before the parliamentary elections?

From today until May 15, the date of the parliamentary elections, it is necessary to monitor the decisions that will be issued by the Council of Ministers, through items that the President puts on the agenda, to know the extent to which the Councils of Ministers and the Baabda Palace are used. The Cabinet sessions are chaired by the President of the Republic, as an “electoral office” for the head of the FPM Gebran Bassil, in an attempt to increase the preferential votes for him and for some of FPM’s candidates.

  • Sawt Beirut International