Gemayel Says Ready to Lift Parliamentary Immunity, Calls for Turning Crisis into Opportunity

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Gemayel Says Ready to Lift Parliamentary Immunity, Calls for Turning Crisis into Opportunity

Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel Friday said that the protests witnessed yesterday against the tax hikes prove that the Lebanese haven't surrendered or yielded to injustice, assuring that the party is deriving its power from the Lebanese.

“I would like to remind the political authority of one of the basic rules of democracy that some have started to ignore,” Gemayel said during a press conference held in Saifi.

“It is the duty of the opposition and lawmakers to express their viewpoints," he stressed. “Aren't we allowed to give our opinion anymore? It is absurd to be criticized for expressing what we think.”

The Kataeb leader accused some parliamentary bloc of agreeing to obstruct the quorum of yesterday's evening session beforehand, saying they did so on purpose to lay the blame on the Kataeb and make the party look as the one hindering the salary scale.

“Why didn't you approve the salary scale and all the taxes as long as you are so convinced of it?” he asked. “How did the Kataeb disrupt the session while all the bloc members were present?”

“If you are convinced of what you are proposing, then approve it. If you are not convinced, then introduce amendments,” he added.

Gemayel noted that it is the first time he hears a political authority demanding the opposition to put forth solutions, stressing that "although it is the ruling class's duty to do so, the party was the first to devise alternative solutions for the salary scale funding."

“Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil himself told Assafir newspaper that waste in the Customs department amounts to $700 million; experts believe that squandering is equal to $1.2 billion. That's the sum we need to finance the salary hike,” he said.

The Kataeb leader stressed that there is a historical opportunity to turn this crisis into a chance to salvage Lebanon and give hope for the Lebanese, saying that it is time to build a country on a correct and flawless basis.

“A serious decision to fight corruption must be taken instead of bandying around accusations,” he stated.

Gemayel renewed utter rejection of the proposed tax hikes, saying that the Kataeb party will not accept that new levies would be imposed without offering the Lebanese any services in return.

“We will continue to defend the Lebanese and our right as citizens to live in dignity; we reject all forms of dictatorship,” he affirmed.

“If they have evidence proving that the Kataeb spread rumors on new taxes and falsified figures, then I am ready to lift off my parliamentary immunity and to take this case to court,” Gemayel said.

The Kataeb leader pointed out that the state should opt for an austerity policy, saying that expensive, unimportant projects must be stopped so as to spare the treasury's funds so that they can be used for more useful issues.

“We walked out of the previous government because dubious tenders were approved despite our objection,” he said. "We chose to get out of the government after we had realized that we can make any change alone."