Gemayel in Op-Ed: Who Governs Lebanon?

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Gemayel in Op-Ed: Who Governs Lebanon?

Below is the translation of an opinion article written by Kataeb leader Samy Gemayel and published in L'Orient Le Jour newspaper.

Denouncing the abuses, the lies, the contradictions, and especially the absurdities of the political life in Lebanon and their distressing consequences on the state is not an option, but an obligation. Remaining silent means being an accomplice and accepting the repercussions.

It is sad to see an appalling reality being inflicted on a people who, after so many years of resistance, efforts and sacrifices, had the right to dream that, after the 2005 liberation, sovereignty, which had been so hard to gain, would be unshakeable, and that the country's affairs would be managed in a serious way and in compliance the state institutions and the public interest.

Unfortunately, the government partners, with unprecedented aplomb and carelessness that reaches the extent of contempt, are acting based on a presupposition that there is no public opinion in Lebanon.

In their eyes, the Lebanese are divided into three categories: unconditional activists, hostages of clientelism, and the silent who are disinterested or divided, and, therefore, can't have any influence. This analysis led the power partners to think that they have nothing to justify to the Lebanese and that, therefore, they have the right to do anything they want. Had the country's officials been afraid of being held accountable by an angry people, they would not have acted as they do today.

In this opinion column, I do not intend to criticize again what is commonly known the "presidential agreement" which consisted in sacrificing the fight for sovereignty in order to share spoils.

In fact, the agreement's protagonists themselves denounced through their actions and statements what, unsurprisingly, turned out to be a mere fool's bargain.

Sovereignty was flouted, and in the end, apart from a few pathetic posts, the booty was not partitioned as it had been hoped to be.

What is even sadder is that what they share now is no longer the property of the state but rather the product of its indebtedness, thus mortgaging not only the fate of the current generation, but also that of the future ones.

The logic adopted by the power partners has also undermined trust that should exist between the ruling authority and the people. No confidence can be maintained in the presence of incoherence and amid the futility of the positions assumed by people who support something and its opposite without even blinking, and who exonerate themselves while they are actually criticizing their own acts.

It takes a lot of nerve to claim that the agreement still holds when, in the same speech, you can hear its protagonists briefly lauding it before starting to shamelessly insult each other while tasting with delight the practice of power.

In terms of contradictions, the attitude of the government partners would have been hilarious hadn't the situation been so critical and urgent.

The government, made up of ministers representing the "associate" parties, held intensive and successive meetings to fashion, with much delay, the 2019 budget that the lawmakers affiliated to these same parties are now debating ahead of a final vote in its favor.

Certainly, the budget is contentious, unrealistic, unfair and inefficient. It continues to safeguard partisan interests and ensures the partitioning of the key centers of power.

In order to finance their interests, they always impose more heavily on an already-weary population. But then, what is the point of having government ministers? By meeting in the Council of Ministers, do they act on their own initiative or do they represent their parties? Who are those lawmakers who engage in diatribes against the actions of the government in which they are represented? Do they act on their own initiative or do they represent their parties?

The citizen can only be disoriented amid this pathological, even pathetic, political schizophrenia.

What a waste of time it had been to form a government at the end of a merciless struggle created by each of its components to increase its share! After exerting strenuous efforts to be part of the government, the political parties end up acting as if their ministers do not commit them to anything.

What a waste of time it had been to prepare the budget whose content will be criticized by the parties whose ministers had drafted it themselves!

It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that the budget lends itself to criticism. It is simply ridiculous to see those who are responsible for its development are jostling on the platforms to criticize it through the media and on social media before voting in its favor.

The absurdity has risen to a new level with the wild hiring policy that the government partners adopted before the elections. These same compulsive recruiters now claim to be denouncing the illegal hires which they had made themselves.

Who governs this country? Who considers himself responsible for his actions?

Since the agreement, Hezbollah has been awarded, amid the silent complicity of others, the decision-making power on major issues: presidential election, electoral law, government formation...

For issues related to the management of the country, the power partners want to monopolize everything while being responsible for nothing.

As key state appointments approach, weapons are being prepared and the parties' alert is on high level. It is easy for the citizens to notice that the power partners prefer relinquishing sovereignty than losing a director-general position.

To top it off, whenever this or that party intends to snatch an advantage to benefit itself and its circle, “community rights" are invoked Ad nauseam. These rights, exploited with unparalleled cynicism, are categorized as a loss or a gain once the aspired advantage is finally obtained.

Nonetheless, citizens, regardless of the community they belong to, have never seen their living conditions improving thanks to the advantage that their parties obtain in their name.

Amid all the contradictions, renunciation, abuse and lack of coherence, one comes to wonder whether Lebanon is really being governed.

By choosing to denounce the rampant corruption, the manifold types of abuse, the partitioning policy, and, above all, the repeated encroachment on sovereignty, we have decided to take up the challenge and side with the Lebanese people and the public opinion.

We have chosen to engage in a real, modern, honest, transparent and uncompromising opposition at the expense of the public interest.

For the opposition to succeed in putting an end to this policy whose negative effects are reflected in an acute economic crisis and a catastrophic social and environmental situation, it needs awakening and civic commitment. That's the purpose and meaning of our struggle.

Today, the presence of an opposition force in Lebanon does not lead to confusion. On the contrary, it is the existence of a government that requires caution.

When the opposition asks "Who governs Lebanon?", they claim that they govern it together ... In other words, they do not govern it, they share it.