Former PMs met at the Center House: To adopt serious orientation to halt economic deterioration

NNA - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri received this afternoon at the Center House former Prime Ministers Najib Mikati, Fouad Siniora, and Tamam Salam. Discussions tackled the latest political developments.

After the meeting, Premier Siniora read the following statement:

“Former Prime Ministers Najib Mikati, Fouad Siniora, Saad Hariri and Tamam Salam held a meeting at the Center House that issued the following:

Lebanon is going through a deep political, economic, financial, monetary and socio-economic crisis. The situation deteriorated recently and threatens to reach a serious national crisis unless the presidency and its government change their policies immediately, return to respecting the constitution, laws and the interest of the Lebanese state, and focus on adopting the measures that can alleviate the suffering of the country and the citizens.

The current government, chosen by the Mandate and its political allies, has unfortunately turned into a tool for settling political scores and for revenge practices, and became a platform for throwing accusations and initiating conflicts in all directions, as well as a barrage behind which some personal maliciousness and presidential aspirations hide, unconcerned about the Taef Accord, the constitution, the implementation of laws, or the interest of the Lebanese state.

The daily suffering of the Lebanese is getting worse every day, and will intensify, unless the Mandate and the Lebanese government regain the lost trust locally and on the Arab and International levels, financially and politically.

Therefore, and out of national responsibility, and the keenness on the higher national interest that requires overcoming differences to save our homeland from what it is in, we call on the President and the government to take the following steps:

1- Adopt a serious orientation and will to halt the economic, financial and monetary deterioration in agreement with the International Monetary Fund, as the only international institution that has become accredited and relied on by the most countries of the international community, to give the necessary credibility to any economic plan that the Lebanese state adheres to.

2- Approve the reform that must be adopted without any delay, instead of diverting attention from the real causes of problems, and fabricating political battles that will only lead to more tension in the country, and waste resources and opportunities to put an end to the crises engulfing Lebanon.

3- Stop attempts to transform the Lebanese system from a parliamentary democratic system to a presidential system, and stop targeting the powers of the premiership to make it obedient to the small ambitions or hatreds of some, and return to the principle of separation of powers, balance and cooperation between these powers, and respect the independence of the judiciary.

4- Reassure the Lebanese that the presidency and the government adhere to the principles of the Taef Accord that is based on coexistence, respecting the constitution, preserving public and private freedoms, enabling the state to extend its full authority over all its land and facilities and control its imports, and restoring the criteria of competence, merit, and entitlement to occupy positions in state departments and institutions. As well as adopting accountability in the institutions on the basis of performance.

5-  Stop counterfeiting anti-corruption and turning it into a campaign of revenge and settling political scores, and start working to restore the confidence of the Lebanese and the world in the Lebanese administration through real, honest, impartial corruption-fighting, and by establishing the state of law that applies to everyone without any exception.

6- Stop the delay and procrastination in issuing the judicial appointments with unconvincing pretexts, and immediately release them as prepared by the Supreme Judicial Council, which removes suspicions about the intention to control the judiciary for political ends, and proves seriousness and sincerity in the approach of fighting corruption.

7- Realize the dangers of the isolation of Lebanon from its Arab and international surrounding, and accelerate the restoration of Lebanon’s Arab and international relations, by emphasizing on disassociating the Lebanese state and government, with all its components, from any regional or international conflicts or axes, to avoid more negative repercussions on the political, economic, financial and monetary levels, and to restore the confidence of the Lebanese citizens and the Arab and international communities.

We warn against the consequences of the pursuit by the Mandate and its government of the policies and practices that lead our country to a serious national crisis that turns difficulties into collapse, and suffering into an explosion. We call on them to return immediately to adopting the real and promised remedies that unite the Lebanese and do not separate them, within the framework of respecting the Taef Accord, the constitution and laws, and restore the confidence of citizens in their state, and the Arab and international confidence in Lebanon in order to preserve its interest and the interest of all Lebanese.

The protests have returned to the streets in the Lebanese cities and towns, despite the preventive measures from the Ministry of Health due to the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic. This means that after more than three months of patience, the aggravation of the crises and the spread of poverty, the citizens took to the streets to express their anger and disappointment and to demand reform, an end of the collapse and attention to the basic needs of the Lebanese. Of course, we do not accept the destruction of banks, shops, private and public properties. We do not accept the attacks against the army and security forces, and we pay tribute to them for their resilience and empathy towards the rightful demands of the Lebanese. But we request investigations about the violence, the deaths and the injuries that took place. And do not accept that the army and security forces be used as if they are the ones restricting the citizens' lives and freedoms.

We assure all the Lebanese, including our people in Tripoli, the North, Beirut, Sidon, the South, Bekaa and Mount Lebanon, that we will remain faithful to their issues and problems that are national problems that cannot be ignored, as the abuses caused by this Mandate and this government to the citizens, the Lebanese system and its constitution cannot be disregarded.”

Mikati from Baabda: Independent Center Bloc did not nominate anyone to head government

NNA - Former PM Najib Mikati announced, after meeting President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, that his bloc, the Independent Center, did not name anyone as head of government.

Mikati said after the meeting: "Finally, the binding consultations, that we were calling for, took place and during the fifty-day period we noticed how things developed as each day of delay cost a great deal on the economy and social conditions of all Lebanese. In the Independent Central Bloc, which will soon participate in the consultations, we discussed this morning the issue of naming and set standards for the Prime Minister who is ready and who has expressed his willingness to take on this difficult task. And the criteria are the capabilities of this person, his attendance, and his representative capacity. Frankly, despite my personal respect for the two subjects, we did not find anyone with these specifications, and therefore we did not name anyone and veiled the designation".

Replying to a question Mikati said "With all my respect for people and my friendship with them, in this period we need an exceptional person with an exceptional team. I do not want to frustrate the hopes of the Lebanese, but I have doubts that none of the parties can take over at this stage".

"We are not talking about the Sunni or Christian cover, and I remind you that Prime Minister Hariri asked to delay consultations because the Lebanese forces and the Free Patriotic Movement refused to name him, and therefore this matter should be a message that we are not satisfied with the name that landed by parachute" Mikati stated.
Replying to another question the Former PM stated "It is the path of things which determines the name, and if the designation is all of one color, then it will be a Government of one color. As for the comparison between the conditions for forming my Government and the current conditions, it is not suitable, because the situation is much more difficult, and I remind you that I spoke about capabilities, attendance and representation. You must compare to know how the conditions are different".


Beirut Pact

Najib Mikati and his team of economists gave a brief summary of their “Road to Beirut Pact”, a document covering all available options aimed at boosting the country’s national economy. The Pact is not, as the tam puts it, ‘sacred’, but could be revised and amended in order to make it a source of agreement between various political and economic bodies. Experts from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have already discussed and debated The Pact, later presented to the Council of Ministers and all representatives of various economic commissions.

Premier Mikati reiterated that The Pact will be available online to all Lebanese should they wish to read it and voice an opinion. All interested parties will receive a copy of The Pact in preparation of a final document to be presented to the international committee to rally support.

Major Guidelines

Premier Mikati summed up the broad headlines of The Pact:

  Lebanon’s economy to be perceived as based on long term growth strategies, providing equal job opportunities to improve the standards of living
  Major economic and social challenges to be addressed with their various options and conclusions
  A methodology of work to comprise various work commissions implementing detailed reforms, to be later compiled in a comprehensive socio-economic program

Beneficial Concessions

Premier Mikati indicated that in order to achieve economic growth, concessions must be made to Cabinet by all political, economic, and social parties on a series of interrelated policies, on legislations, and on various reform measures.

He said this should encourage Cabinet to move forward, as the moment is propitious for Lebanon, with the ongoing support of the international community, following the democratic drive of the Lebanese. This would achieve long-lasting results, averting the various pressures presently exerted on Lebanon.

Lebanon, says Premier Mikati, and since the Taef Agreement, has always been subjected to calls for economic reforms. Some of these reforms were only partly implemented, with no fruitful results, while other major achievements were made in other fields. One of the major causes of not promoting drastic economic reforms was political bickering. This resulted in some economic reforms being implemented while others have not, and all for political benefits.

Towards a New Agreement

By achieving these objectives, one would reach a long-lasting national pact setting the grounds for a new socio-economic agreement. Hence the title “The Road to Beirut Pact”.

Under the leadership of Premier Mikati, his Cabinet focused on bringing together all political, social and economic parties in order to draw up a strategy confronting the country’s economic and social challenges. It is hoped this will lead to a national program based on mutual concessions enabling Lebanon to rally support from the international committee and to boost the national economy.

Premier Mikati asserted that it is high time to move forward from political slogans to practical strategies, a crucial step to further develop economic debate, complementing the efforts of the government to move the political standards to a new level.

An Economic Taef Agreement

Premier Miakti concluded by saying that the “Beirut Pact” should be legalized, becoming a binding agreement after ‘all partners of Lebanon and with no exception’ agree on all its points. This “Pact’ is a not measure imposed on Lebanon by a regional or an international party but a global contract, reached by consensus between all Lebanese parties. It could be labeled as ‘The Taef Accord for Economy and Growth’.

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