President Aoun, it is time to step down Mouafac Harb/The Daily Star/February 15/2021 موفق حرب/ديلي ستار/ إلى الرئيس عون عون: لقد حان الوقت لتتنحى
When the only courageous decision a president can take to please his own people is to step down, you get an idea how bad his rule had been.
President Aoun’s tenure has witnessed the fragmentation of the Lebanese institutions and the degradation of government services, leaving many wondering about the viability of Lebanon as a viable state.
The lack of achievements and absence of any vision are an indication that the president had no prior plan other than becoming a president. And despite the current miserable condition of the economy, it seems the only plan he has for the country is to secure the political future of his son-in-law former Minister Gebran Bassil, who was placed under sanctions by the US for corruption allegations.
It is difficult to comprehend the current procrastination in forming the Cabinet given the country’s status, other than serving narrow personal interests.
It seems the only legacy the president is working to leave is to secure a leadership role or maybe the presidency for his son-in-law, Bassil.
Maybe he sees in him a political continuity. However, talking about continuity raises an obvious question. Continuity of what? The governing model offered by the sitting president is disastrous at best.
Political ambition is legitimate even when unjustified given the track record, but Lebanon is on the verge of collapsing and losing its serious state status among nations after its economy collapsed and the country’s political clique is failing to face the challenges or offer any way out.
In fact the political elite who ruled and mismanaged the country is the main obstacle and cannot be part of any solution.
Calls by the opposition, protesters and activists calling for early parliamentary elections were met by deaf ears. Instead, there are concerns that the current major blocs in Parliament may try to extend the term of the current chamber when it expires a year from now. It would not be the first time that Parliament failed to honor constitutional obligations.
The only way to regain the minimum trust in the government is to return to the source of legitimacy, the people.
The future of the country depends on the upcoming parliamentary elections. This maybe the only hope for the Lebanese to replace the current political clique they complain about.
A terrible pandemic, horrific explosion and the evaporation of savings in banks have broken the resolve of the individual Lebanese, leaving young people in despair and seeking opportunities outside the country.
A presidential tenure marred by corruption and the erosion of the state exacerbated by the collapse of the national currency doesn’t qualify the president and his allies to offer solutions and claim the role of protecting the Constitution.
The fallback position of Lebanese leaders when they are politically bankrupt is to resort to the sectarian protectionism and appeal to tribal and sectarian instincts.
Under the banner of protecting the Christian role in Lebanon, the president is stalling in the forming the Cabinet.
This argument should be exposed and undermined by the international community and the head of the church.
Christians and the rest of the Lebanese are equally suffering and looking for a slight hope.
Engulfing political ambitions with the slogan of protecting Christians in Lebanon to justify blocking the formation of a new Cabinet, is taking the country on the fast track of total collapse.
There should be no national agenda other than remedying the economic conditions and restoring faith in the government.
The world is watching and the remaining friends of Lebanon are poised to help but all are waiting for the president to put the interest of the country ahead of political considerations.
Failing to do so, leaves Lebanese no choice other than calling and hoping for the president to step down.
Time is not on your side. At least be on the right side of history and step down.
*Mouafac Harb is a veteran American-Lebanese journalist based in Beirut. He contributes a weekly column for The Daily Star.