Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Sunday stressed that the outcry on which the party’s campaign is based is that of people who got fed up with the current status quo, saying that it mirrors the concerns of angry citizens who are suffering from the state's recklessness and negligence.
“The rift in Lebanon is no longer based on sects and regions; the country has become rather divided between upright and dishonorable people,” Gemayel said during the ceremony marking the launch of the Kataeb's electoral campaign at the Forum de Beyrouth.
“The country is now divided between people who believe in the state, and others who believe in statelets and the law of the jungle,” he noted. “They resort to sectarian incitement whenever they want to boost their popularity and find that people no longer believe them."
“Our duty is to give upright and honorable people a new pulse in the elections.”
“We chose to be the pulse that would make the change that we are all aspiring to,” he noted. “We chose to work on restoring the confidence of people after they had lost hope in politics and politicians.”
“We made sure that our performance is flawless and unquestionable by basing our opposition on facts, figures and technical studies,” he added.
Gemayel stressed that the political life in Lebanon is based on personal interests that ended up relinquishing the nation's sovereignty and the state's decision-making power, saying that what they call "political pragmatism" has brought nothing but detrimental concessions made at the expense of the country.
"Political pragmatism is the pretext they use to justify all their violations and concessions."
“They call it the 'political game' because managing the country's affairs is nothing but a game to them,” Gemayel deplored. “The policy of 'You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' has been ruling the country over the past years."
“The Kataeb had to choose between three options: engage in their political game, surrender or confront and stand firm for the sake of our martyrs who sacrificed their lives for a free and sovereign nation,” he said.
The Kataeb leader noted that the taxes that the authority has imposed have eliminated the society's middle class whose presence is key to the economic independence and democracy of any country, saying that they wanted to turn it into a poor class so that it would be more prone to blackmail and bribery.
Gemayel said that the authority keeps blaming the Kataeb for its own failures and holding it responsible for its mistakes, adding that the Judiciary has been used to intimidate the party, as well as all the free people who are speaking up against the erroneous practices of the ruling class.
“However, they forgot that we don't fear anything,” he affirmed.
“They attempted to tarnish our image by labeling us as "populist"; yes, we have openly stood on the people's side without being ashamed of anything."
Gemayel stressed the Kataeb's steadfastness despite all the pressure, reiterating that the elections serve as the opportunity to make a change and refuse the current policy and performance.
“Our goal is to build a country that resembles us and mirrors our aspirations,” he pointed out.
“We have almost everything to build the country we dream of; what we need is a sovereign and democratic state which is based on a good political system, and lives in peace and security,” he said.
"We have a historical and cultural wealth that no other small country as ours has."
The Kataeb chief affirmed that it is time that the Lebanese take a break from stalemates and crises, saying that it is their right to build the country they dream of.
“To build a real state, we must have full trust in our army and regard it as the sole defender of the country,” he said. “There won't be peace unless non-state arms are laid down.”
Gemayel stressed that social security and a healthcare system are highly needed in Lebanon, saying the people's basic needs are being used as electoral bribes as the authority is seeking to further impoverish the Lebanese so as to subdue them.
The Kataeb chief reached out to political and civil society groups who believe in the Kataeb's principles and values, calling on them to join forces and work hand in hand to make a change.
"Let's put our differences aside and turn the page so as to eradicate the worn out mentality that is ruling the country," he stated. "I call on whoever believes in Lebanon's sovereignty to join us to achieve a victory for the Lebanese people in 2018."
“We are enduring the same suffering and share the same aspirations. Do not allow anyone to foment sedition and sow discord among us. Let us keep in mind that we have to build this country together while respecting the cultural identity and characteristics of each other,” he said in an address to the Lebanese.
“In 2009, you voted right, but it was them who disappointed you by taking the wrong way and altering their stances,” he added. "What matters now is to hold them accountable in the coming elections."
“Make your electoral decision based on the performance you saw over the past years,” he pointed out. “Liberate yourselves from all constraints and vote for the ones you are convinced they will do something for Lebanon."
Gemayel also told the Lebanese who have lost hope and don't want to vote that it is up to them to either surrender and do nothing or elect people who can bring the change they want.
“You are free from all constraints given that you live outside the country. Thus, you can play a big role in helping your constrained compatriots who live here to get out of this bitter reality,” he said in an address to Lebanese expats who are set to cast their ballot overseas.
Gemayel also told noted that the youths who will be voting for the first time are expected to make up 20% of the polls turnout, asking them to set an exemplary model by voting in accordance with their conscience.
“Be the pulse of change on May 6," Gemayel urged. "Others will be using money, arms and bribes to fight the electoral battle, whereas we will fight it with our pure hearts."
“The moment you will cast your ballots is the one thing that separates you from the Lebanon you are all dreaming of," he conclude. "It is up to you to choose to either spin the wheel in the right direction or keep the situation unchanged."