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News, November 2019
Lebanon Anti-Government Protesters Return to Streets After Pro-Aoun Rally, Nasrallah Calls for Dialogue
November 4, 2019
Lebanese protesters demanding the overthrow of their country's
elite poured back onto the streets on Sunday in the largest numbers
since the government was toppled and hours after opposing supporters of
President Michel Aoun staged a big rally.
Sayyed Nasrallah Calls for Dialogue, Urges Formation Of Gov’t in Shortest Time
Sara Taha Moughnieh
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah delivered a speech on Friday in a commemoration ceremony marking seven days on the departure of Significant Islamic Researcher Ayatollah Sayyed Jaafar Mortada.
His eminence divided his speech into two parts. In the first part he talked about Sayyed Mortada, his rich journey, and his great support to the Islamic Resistance. In the second part he tackled the internal Lebanese developments.
After indicating that the incidents in the past two weeks had helped us understand history and how it was written more, due to all the falsification of reality by media, his eminence assured that the positives of the protests must be highlighted.
“When I told protesters that your calls are right and you should be careful not to let anyone take advantage of your move, and that it’s your right to know the funder if there was one, just a few minutes later many reporters told people that Sayyed (Nasrallah) said you are agents of embassies and they are funding you, knowing that I didn’t say any of that,” he said.
On the other hand, Sayyed Nasrallah saluted the patience and awareness of protesters, which helped stop any form of chaos and internal fighting, knowing that some sides were pushing towards that.
“Elements leading to chaos were present, first the unprecedented form and amount of cursing which I assure to you is not at all spontaneous, even more, broadcasting these curses and humiliations on media is totally denounced,” he added, stressing that “This cursing was an attempt to trigger the emotions of the opposite street in order to cause trouble and clashes in the country.”
“Everyone has weapons in Lebanon, not just the resistance, and everyone has emotions and could be triggered by these bad words… Moreover closing the streets, humiliating people who wanted to pass, taking ID cards, offending reporters, and speaking about an imprecise number of one million and two million being in the streets, knowing that they were a maximum of one, two, or three hundred thousand, while the millions were in their homes and their roads were cut, all these were elements of chaos,” Sayyed Nasrallah explained.
As he reassured that “media must not broadcast cursing under the claim that this is the voice of people. Curses are never the voice of people,” his eminence noted that “chaos was prevented by the consciousness and awareness that many Lebanese had, even if there were small incidents here and there.”
As he stressed peoples’ right to protest without the use of curses, he called on people to have patience and consciousness in order to obstruct the conspirators attempt to ignite internal fights that do not serve the country.
Sayyed Nasrallah assured that “all our efforts were to avoid vacuum so that the country’s institutions would continue to work… We took different stances on one hand to understand the righteous and honest calls of people suffering from the corruption in the country, and on the other hand to be aware of the dangerous state that the country will fall into in case of vacuum.”
“We had to act responsibly, and this is what happened. We did not raise any slogan nor take any part, we only held the responsibility to prevent the destruction of the country,” he added.
Regarding claims that this government is controlled by Hezbollah, Hezbollah SG assured that “neither this government nor any of the past governments were controlled by Hezbollah and that Hezbollah never got an important ministry, the only important ministry it got finally was that of health, and in all these governments, decisions were taken without our approval.”
“Hezbollah was never in control of any government that passed. This is only an attempt to hold Hezbollah responsible for the corruptions in the country… even when we say that we don’t support the fall of any government, it is for the sake of the country not Hezbollah,” he added, asserting that “for the past couple of years we had never been worried about Hezbollah because we are very very strong unlike any time that had passed, and Hezbollah had not used any of its powerful files yet. We are only worried about our country and people, and I assure to you that if the country fell into chaos and it couldn’t pay salaries, we could still do…”
Concerning PM Saad Hariri’s resignation, Hezbollah SG said that the party did not support this step considering that “the positive shock should have been that the government gathers and put laws to fight corruption and protesters stay in the streets to put pressure on it.”
“Now the Prime Minister resigned, this means that the whole government fell, so there is no chance to implement any form of reformations or have an economic hope for the time being, we just have to wait… We did not support the resignation of PM Saad Hariri. It was his choice and he had his own reasons, now it is the responsibility of the Lebanese to push for the formation of a new government in the shortest time.,” he said. In this context, his eminence stressed that “whoever the new government is, its major goals must be to regain the people’s trust. This is why this government must have all the trustworthy elements: Seriousness of deeds, constant work, setting priorities, clearance and transparency.”
In parallel, Sayyed Nasrallah called for dialogue between all parts, even the major powers in the protests, indicating that “the national benefit requires everyone to get over the pain that the past days have caused, and it urges everyone to hold responsibility.”
As for the US role in the latest developments, Sayyed Nasrallah assured that “the US had always stood as an obstacle in front of the Lebanese in making any reformations because of the pressure it imposes on Lebanon, this is why we demand a real sovereign government.”
In conclusion, Sayyed Nasrallah indicated that the Israeli drone that was targeted Thursday by the resistance in the Lebanese skies was an evidence that the resistance has a military leadership that works without being influenced by any internal developments.
“The resistance will always keep its promise and is always ready to defend the Lebanese territories,” he added
Lebanon's president urges citizens to unite behind reforms
By AFP - Nov 04,2019 -
BAABDA, Lebanon —
Lebanon's president Sunday called on citizens to unite behind reforms, after more than two weeks of nationwide anti-graft protests that brought down the government.
President Michel Aoun addressed thousands of his supporters thronging the road outside the presidential palace, ahead of more mass anti-government protests planned in Beirut in the afternoon.
Unprecedented cross-sectarian demonstrations have gripped Lebanon since October 17, demanding a complete overhaul of a political system deemed inefficient and corrupt.
The Cabinet stepped down on Tuesday, but protesters have said this was not enough and pledged to meet for another demonstration Sunday afternoon in Beirut.
In a live televised address beamed to his fans and around the nation, Aoun called on supporters and protesters alike to rally behind a plan for reforms.
"I call on you all to unite," the state leader said, warning against having "one protest against another".
The 84-year-old president said a roadmap had been drawn up to tackle corruption, redress the economy, and put together a civil government.
"It won't be easy, and we want your efforts," he said, leaning on a pulpit inside the palace in the town of Baabda outside Beirut.
'We will not abandon you'
Protesters have called for an end to Aoun's tenure, as well as drastic change to a political system dominated by the same figures and families since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.
"All of them means all of them," has become a popular chant calling for all political leaders to step down.
Outside the palace, an AFP correspondent saw Aoun's supporters chanting, some brandishing the orange-coloured banners of his political party, the Free Patriotic Movement.
"We are here, General. We won't abandon you as long as we live," one poster read, referring to the army's youngest-ever commander in chief during the civil conflict.
Aoun’s supporters said they backed the overall demands of protesters nationwide, but insisted the president was the only man able to bring about reforms.
“General Aoun is a reformist and sincere man — not corrupt nor a thief,” said one supporter who gave her name as Diana.
“There has been corruption in the state for 30 years,” she said.
“The president isn’t responsible. He’s trying to fight against graft.”
Along with its allies including powerful Shiite movement Hizbollah, Aoun’s political party holds the majority in parliament.
The FPM is now headed by his son-in-law Gibran Bassil, who has emerged as one of the most reviled figures in the protests.
Before the Cabinet resigned on Tuesday, Bassil was foreign minister.
A proposed tax on calls via free phone applications such as Whatsapp triggered protests last month.
But they soon morphed into a huge nationwide movement to denounce a raft of woes including a lack of basic services, a failing economy, and rampant sectarianism.
On Tuesday, prime minister Saad Hariri announced his government would be stepping down.
But it is still unclear what a new Cabinet will look like, and if it will include independent technocrats as demanded by demonstrators.
After around two weeks of closure, banks and some schools re-opened this week.
But protesters have vowed to press ahead with their demands and — after numbers dwindled amid rain in recent days — were set to make a broad stand on Sunday afternoon in Beirut’s main square.
On Saturday night, thousands of anti-government protesters had flocked together in the impoverished northern city of Tripoli to keep the popular movement alive.
Several said they had travelled to the Sunni-majority city from other parts of the country, inspired by the after-dark street parties that earned it the title “bride of the revolution”.
More than 25 per cent of Lebanese citizens live in poverty, the World Bank says.
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