Aoun looks back on his two years in office: Political tactics open gap that may hit unity

Marking two years on his election as President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun held on Wednesday evening an interview with four journalists he welcomed at the presidential palace in Baabda. The interview was broadcast live on the various television channels and radio stations.

During the interview coordinated by the director of the presidential press office, Rafic Chelala, the Head of State looked back on the achievements made along the past two years of his mandate and talks about future plans, dwelling on the process of forming a government and the hindrances that delay such a formation.

"We are a democratic and pluralistic country. Therefore, the government must be formed in accordance with certain criteria concerning ministerial representation, in order to avoid the marginalization of a community or a group. If all the forces had been content with fair representation, we would have not had any problems. We even conceded to some of them a share larger than what it should be. Now, a new obstacle arises: the independent Sunnis. This delays the formation of the government and the obstacles are unjustifiable. Utilizing the delay as a political tactic torpedoes the national strategy that we direly need, especially in this delicate period. Every minute of delay is costly," said the president.

Asked about the independent Sunni deputies who demand a ministerial portfolio, Aoun said "they do not form a bloc."

"These are individuals who have recently come together to formulate claims. How to have them represented within the government when they each have a different political affiliation," he wondered.

The head of state then stressed that "the Prime Minister ought to be strong because the responsibility he assumes is major," stressing that his relations with Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri were "good" and that he shared with him "good intentions to build Lebanon."

Aoun also put the citizens in front of their responsibilities. "Everyone should be aware of the need to avoid creating gaps in national unity. What is happening now is unacceptable," he warned.

On possible mediations that could remove the obstacles to the formation of the government, the president acknowledged that "the situation is not easy". "However, I do not think that a majority government would be useful. It is unacceptable to impose one's opinions on others," he added.

Asked about the relationship between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces, Aoun said the two parties were not in a state of animosity. "It's simply a difference of opinion, we are fighting in politics, but not over the country," he affirmed.

As for the livelihood problems of citizens and the services that the State ought to provide to them, the President revealed the presence of certain gap that would eventually be filled, but said that several other demands were "impossible to fulfill."

Tackling the electricity crisis, Aoun said some projects needed two years to bear fruit. "The problem lies in waiting for the construction of power generation plants. This waiting time must be filled (by temporary solutions). We hope the next government will facilitate the task at this level", he said.

The president then listed the achievements of the first two years of his six-year term, particularly in terms of fighting corruption, addressing the economic situation and working on resolving the issue of displaced Syrians. He acknowledged that the fight against corruption will not be easy and will cause clashes, calling on citizens to support him in this endeavors.

Interrogated about fears over US sanctions against Hezbollah, Aoun said those will affect the country as a whole.

The head of state also revealed that a conference on the judiciary was being prepared, with the aim of reforming the laws in accordance with the emerging recommendations. He also expressed the intention to revive dialogue on the defense strategy.

Regarding the issue of Syrian refugees that Lebanon has been hosting since the beginning of the conflict in their country, President Aoun called "the organizations that deal with displaced Syrians to bring them aid and assistance in Syria and not in Lebanon."

"We will reach a stage where we will deal with the issue of the displaced in agreement with Syria, far from international organizations," he maintained, stressing that dialogue with the Syrian government in this regard would serve Lebanon's best interest and would bring no harm to anyone.

The Head of State finally thanked the Lebanese for their confidence, pledging to keep the promises he made before them.

Source: National News Agency