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Aoun: Formation of national unity government is next step

President of the republic Michel Aoun on Wednesday said that the next step following the election of a new Parliament and Speaker is the formation of a national unity government that is capable of facing the challenges stalking Lebanon.

Speaking in the wake of an Iftar banquet he hosted at Baabda palace, Aoun said the new government must be capable of addressing the regional and international situation while preserving home stability, in addition to fighting corruption and modernizing the state.

Calling for adopting rational and calm rhetoric, the President reminded of the internal and external challenges which can be only faced with unity and solidarity.

Moreover, he maintained that the ailing economic situation was among the most pressing issues requiring solutions, urging for resolving the growing Syrian refugees' plight.

"Everyone is invited to facilitate the formation of the new government in the nearest time possible; the pressing situation does not allow any waste of time," Aoun said.

Aoun's address is the following:

"Your Eminences, Your Excellencies,

Esteemed audience,

Welcome around this Ramadan Iftar table which brings us together every year at the onset of the Holy month, the month of blessings and charity, the month of forgiveness and tolerance. The Iftar banquet, in our minds, always represents aspace for encounter; it draws near those who have grown apart, cleans the hearts and clears the intentions. Let the virtues of this Holy month inspire us and let us seek convergence throughout the country.

Esteemed audience,

For about a year and during last year's Iftar, I promised to complete an electoral law which would mark the beginning of confidence recovery andwould improve the popular representation, making it more balanced, horizontally between all the components of the Lebanese population, and vertically within each of these components itself.

The promise was fulfilled indeed, the law was passed on the basis of proportionality for the first time in the history of Lebanon, and the elections were held accordingly, producing a new House of Representatives where the majority of the political forces have been represented; new figures have entered the Parliament and some political forces have been represented for the first time, so welcome to all on the journey of building the nation and the State.

The recent interactions and the electoral speech, sometimes out of control, accumulated grudge in the spirits, and contributed to creating an atmosphere of tension with confessional and political incitement - especially on the social media -that brushed against the red lines.

The inflammatory rhetoric and verbal violence must stop and the language of reason must return, for the challenges ahead are huge, internally and externally, and we can only face them with our unity and solidarity, and by givingpriority to the national interest, allowing it to prevail over any other interest.

The turmoil of threats is growing around us today, from Iran to Israel and from Syria to Russia and the United States, with the accompanying economic sanctions and security threats that make it more than pressing and required to embrace for all the consequences in Lebanon which is surrounded by fires and by the hidden intentions of the Israeli enemy. Therefore, we must tightly mend all the possible holes from which the winds of violence and upheaval may sneak in, on top of which fragmentation and the conflict of interests and visions about what we want for our country and people.

After the legislative power has been put in place, the next step is the establishment of the executive power, and the formation of a national unity government, capable of countering these challenges; a government which can address the regional and international situation while preserving internal stability; a government which moves on with reform, keeps its eyes on fighting corruption and modernizing the State' administrations, and adopts an economic plan that completes the country's course of growth and recovery. Everybody is therefore invited to facilitate the formation of the government-to-be, as soon as possible, for the pressing situation does not allow any waste of time, and the formation criteria are known and we only have to stick to them and implement them.

Esteemed audience,

The most important due ahead of us is the economic situationwhich is deteriorating because of the accumulations and lingeringcrises over the last tens of years, let alone the fallout of the global economic crisis and the neighborhood wars. We have therefore embarked on putting up an economic plan that identifies for us the strengths and weaknesses, and sets a conception to address the existing problems, and it is about to be finalized.

Nevertheless, any economic plan will not be fully successful unless we embark on laying practical foundations to solve the aggravating problem of the Syrian displaced, which generates damages in all the joints of the Lebanese economy, let alone its social and security repercussions on our society and on the future of our youth.

Time to talk about and warn against this problem is up; it is rather time to officially embark on setting up a practical solution plan which achieves its desired goal, namely the return of the displaced to the safe zones in their country, without waiting for the final solution of the Syrian crisis.

In parallel, we have to launch the battle against corruption, without which no nation will be built, no State will stand tall, and no economy will pick itself up. The time for this postponed battle has come, after the establishment of the legislative and executive powers as per the will of the Lebanese people, and after all the forces unanimously agreed that it is a priority.

Our people have waged many political battles which drew them apart and scattered them. Let the anti-corruption battle be the one that unites them, the real battle worthy of being fought with all the weapons, because it is a constructive and not a destructive battle where victory is for all the country and all the citizens.

Indeed, the soaring corruption in the State is the greatest obstacle to any real progress; it is the "black hole" in the heart of the economy, the development and the recovery. It drainsout all the efforts and rescue attempts. In this context, the legalization of corruption and its acceptance by society are alarming.

Corruption is entrenched in the administration whereas some of the State institutions have become independent republics in the heart of the Republic, free from any control or accountability, and being run as if they were private properties.

We do not want fighting corruption to become a slogan and an electoral speech that vanishes at the break of dawn. We rather wantit to be a relentless action undertaken by all the concerned parties, and perseverant endeavors which attain their goal, namely a clean, candid and transparent administration.

All the political forces have unanimously agreed that eradicating corruption is a pressing necessity and a priority. Having completed the elections, we must focus on the practical implementation of the fight against corruption.

My fellow Lebanese,

Uprooting corruption will not be achieved overnight. It is possible, though, if there is a true will and firm resolve to face it, and they are available indeed!

At the onset of this holy month, I pledge and promise all the Lebanese that by the time the Ramadan crescent appears again next year, we will have extirpated corruption from Lebanon.

Wishing you a Holy Ramadan full of grace and blessings.

Long live Lebanon!"

Source: National News Agency