Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Tuesday said that the country cannot be run through slips of tongue, gaffes and acrimonious debates, blasting the double-faced approach regarding the 2019 draft budget.
"Today, it seems as if most of those who approved the budget in the government are from another planet as lawmakers affiliated to the same political forces will object to the budget in the Parliament," Hariri said in a press conference held at the Grand Serail following his return to Beirut from Eid Al-Fitr vacation abroad.
Hariri called on political factions to stop placing obstacles in the way of the budget, stressing that the blueprint must be ratified for the country's sake.
Regarding the recent tensions between the Future Movement and the Free Patriotic Movement, the premier said that he had been dismayed by the statement attributed to FM Gebran Bassil who accused Sunni politicians of assuming key state posts “on the corpse of the Maronite political establishment".
“We cannot overlook the anger within the Sunni community and consider that it doesn't exist; it is real and has resulted from the political stances of some political partners,” Hariri said. “We cannot continue to remain silent on words that affect the dignity, the Constitution and the norms of this country.”
Nonetheless, Hariri reiterated his commitment to the settlement based on which the country's political life has been running since the 2016 presidential election, warning that any alternative would drag Lebanon into the unknown.
“My relationship with the president is good, but the problem in the country today is that everyone wants to take it elsewhere,” Hariri said. "There are some who want to sabotage the settlement in any way. The country and its economy would pay the price for any dispute with the president of the Republic."
"The lack of mutual trust poses the biggest danger to the country," he warned.
Hariri assured that the prime minister's prerogatives are intact, denying that the political settlement has forced him to make many concessions and let go of the Sunni community's rights.
"This is the biggest lie being spread against me. No one can lay a hand on the premier's prerogatives. Stop this game!"
Commenting on recent remarks by Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah who condemned the stance expressed by the Lebanese delegation on Iran at the Mecca summit, Hariri affirmed that what he said goes absolutely in line with the government's dissociation policy.
“When the Premier takes the floor anywhere in the world, he speaks on behalf of Lebanon,” Hariri stated. "It must be clear that Lebanon's ties with the Arab countries cannot hinge on the mood of some people."
"We must not place the Arab countries and Saudi Arabia in a position of enmity with Lebanon. It is time we realized that the country's interests come before our personal and political interests, and that our allegiance to Lebanon comes before the allegiance to any foreign axis."
Turning to the row between the Internal Security Forces (ISF) and State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Peter Germanos, Hariri deemed it as unacceptable for a judge to launch a personal campaign against the ISF's command.
He also condemned the Military Court's acquittal of ISF officer Suzanne Al-Hajj in the case of Ziad Itani, saying that there was "certainly" a political interference.
"I shall not keep mum about this issue," he said.