BEIRUT: The Lebanese people celebrated the 75th anniversary of their country’s independence on Wednesday. On the eve of the traditional military parade in the heart of Beirut, President Michel Aoun told the Lebanese people in a national address that “to be an independent nation, the homeland needs to be the master of its decisions and its land, and to be able to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ in all issues relating to its national affairs.”
President Aoun’s speech came as hopes of forming a new government in Lebanon faded in light of Hezbollah’s insistence on the need to represent its six Sunni MPs in the government and the refusal of Saad Hariri, the prime minister-designate, to accept this demand.
The president reminded the Lebanese that “the interference of external elements costs us the ability to decide, wastes the essence of independence, and places sovereignty in danger.”
He stressed that “differences should not be over the homeland, but over politics, and my call today to all officials, political factions and sects is to discard our differences and highlight the sense of responsibility toward the people, who are fed up by the indifference of the decision-makers to their fears and broken dreams. It is our duty to reassure them about their future and to work hard to save our country economically, socially and morally.”
He said that “the crisis of forming a government is not unique and Lebanon has lived through it before. It may happen in other deep-rooted countries too, but it is costing us precious time and preventing the possibilities of production.”
Aoun stressed that “the independence and sovereignty of the homeland must remain outside the equation of opposition and loyalty, and outside the scope of a power struggle.”
He promised “not to be lenient in the face of corruption and corrupt people. We will not back down on promises of reform, sustainable development and job creation for our youth.”
President Aoun also talked about the issue of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, saying that “there are those who are hindering their return to their country for hidden reasons, whether by talking about voluntary return and using all means of encouragement and intimidation to push the displaced to choose to stay where they are, or try to link the issue to a political solution.”