Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel on Thursday called on all the political forces to make an in-depth assessment of the current situation in Lebanon, urging utmost consciousness amid the critical phase that the country is going through.
"If they [political forces] find that everything is going well, then they can stick to the same political approach they are adopting. If not, then they must make a change," Gemayel said in a live interview on MTV.
"Everything is in a state of decline due to the political approach that is pushing the country towards the edge," he warned.
“We have given a chance to the presidential term since the beginning, but, unfortunately, we are seeing that the same approach based on partitioning and incomplete sovereignty is still prevailing,” Gemayel deplored, blaming the current status quo on the political settlement that was sealed two years ago.
“Although we still object to this settlement, we are ready to reach out to everyone, while sticking to our constants and convictions,” Gemayel stated, highlighting that the Kataeb party does not have a personal problem with the president or with the prime minister but rather with the political approach that led to this risky phase.
“Our only goal is to build a better country and to lay the foundations for a better future for the next generations,” he stressed, adding that he highly doubts that the erroneous political approach being currently adopted is actually helping serve this goal.
“Being part of this flawed political system does not pave the way for the much-aspired state that we are looking for,” he said. “Being part of the erroneous political system means deferring the problem instead of solving it."
Asked about the Kataeb's electoral gains, Gemayel stressed that the party's historic path shouldn't be evaluated based on the number of parliamentary seat it has, noting that a political faction must be assessed based on what it does for the country.
"The Kataeb fought the 1958 Revolution with only one lawmaker. In the 1960s, we had subsequently seven, four, eight and then down to one lawmaker. It is not about the number of deputies, but rather about effectiveness," he emphasized. "It's not about what you have, but rather about what you can do for the country."
Gemayel attested to the difficult challenge the party took up in the parliamentary elections, stressing, however, that there is no point in making political gains if this would mean abandoning one's constants.
“We had two options: we either go against our constants and convictions in return for more parliamentary seats, or stand firm to what we believe in even if we have to lose.”
“When elected as the head of the Kataeb party, I pledged to work hard for a new political approach in the country and not to get drowned in the flaws of the political life in Lebanon. Instead, we want to turn the political life into a mirror that reflects our aspirations and ethics,” Gemayel said. "We decided to do politics differently and to stay away from the system that is based on partitioning."
“My goal is to build a country, not to seek personal interests. My political career is entirely focused on making structural change, starting with the mentality, political system and the performance of politicians."
“We admit that we committed mistakes against ourselves, but not once against our country. It is the country that is troubled, not the Kataeb party,” he defended.
Gemayel expressed his fear that all the values that the Kataeb party has long defended are today at stake, reiterating unwavering commitment to safeguard the essence behind the Kataeb's existence.
“If the Kataeb party wins the whole world and loses itself, it won't be Kataeb anymore.”
“We are aware that change cannot be made overnight. We realize that the option the party has chosen will not yield positive results immediately.”
“Our martyrs did not sacrifice their lives so that we would yield to this gloomy reality and abandon our values. We must stand firm and resist all attempts to make us become part of this flawed political system. Hold onto your faith in Lebanon!” Gemayel affirmed in his address to the Kataeb partisans.
"Our challenge is big, but the seeds we sowed will flourish, provided that we cling to our constants," he assured, as he reiterated that the Kataeb party does not receive any funds in return for political allegiance.
"I am totally proud to say that the Kataeb party's financial situation is at its lowest."
While also addressing the Lebanese, Gemayel urged them not to allow anyone to set barriers between them and to rebuff any attempts to drag them into sectarian sedition.
"Our goal is one: building a civilized state."
The Kataeb leader revealed that his party was offered to join the government, saying that he refused because he believes that it is impossible for another Cabinet that is full of contradictions to be effective.
“We want the government to include a harmonious team. Therefore, it is not compelling to form a government of national unity. As everywhere else in the world, the majority should rule the Cabinet in accordance with the election results,” he explained.
“A hybrid government will only turn the situation sour as divergences will persist and grow," he warned. "I fail to sense any sincere will for change and reform in a government formed through partitioning."
“Unfortunately, they are bickering over ministerial seats, while not making any effort to debate the government's vision and plans,” Gemayel criticized. "It is abnormal that, for the past six months, there have been no discussions on future plans for the new Cabinet.”
“The way the government formation is being handled is a civil war in disguise,” he said. “A country can only be built with a mentality of peace, not war.”
Gemayel renewed his call for a technocrat government, adding that it is no longer acceptable to leave the country in limbo until political forces reach an agreement.
“Hariri has two options: either he continues to patch things up or he takes a bold initiative to make a real change,” he stated, urging exceptional steps and drastic measures in order to avert further deterioration.
“It is not surprising that Hezbollah wants the Sunni lawmakers affiliated to the March 8 group to be included in the government. They pressured the approval of the proportional voting system to achieve this target,” he noted.
Turning to the economic situation, Gemayel said that the hardships facing the country are the result of the wrong political and fiscal policies adopted throughout the past years, voicing regret that the Lebanese no longer have any perspective for the future as they are gradually losing hope.
“According to figures released today by the Finance Ministry for the first six months of 2018, tax revenues have decreased by 3.3% despite the levies that were imposed, the state's expenditures increased by 29% and the public deficit grew by 243%," he elaborated.
“Burying our heads in the sand does not serve the country. It is highly important to examine these figures and search for proper solutions,” he added, slamming the absence of planning, madness and greed as the main reasons behind the gloomy reality of the country’s economy.
“The party was repeatedly accused of populism, whereas we turned out to be right about everything that we warned of. We will continue to speak up the truth no matter what,” Gemayel affirmed. "Had they paid heed to our proposals and warnings, they wouldn't have waited for the latest World Bank report which warned that national debt is expected to rise on an unsustainable path."
Gemayel suggested solving the chronic electricity crisis by building plants in collaboration with the private sector, conducting an overhaul in the state administrations, cutting tax evasion and stimulating productive sectors.