President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, considered that “the criminal scrutiny that the Cabinet decided to achieve would help end the scourge of corruption, prosecute the corrupt, and seize suspicious files”, calling on the Lebanese to support the state to confront those who resist that.
The President also affirmed that Lebanon is not in the position to attack anyone or support disputes at all, “But we are obligated to defend ourselves, whether we are neutral or not”. In addition, President Aoun revealed that a plan had been drawn up for the return of displaced Syrians to their homeland, in coordination with Syria and the countries interested in displaced affairs, adding that “We have now to do what is practical to push these countries to carry out their duties towards the displaced Syrians”.
President Aoun’s stances came while receiving a delegation of the “Muslim Scholars Association” in Lebanon, headed by Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Judge Sheikh Ahmed Al-Zein, today at the Presidential Palace.
Al-Zein delivered a speech thanking the President for receiving the delegation, and wishing him success in his national responsibilities. Al-Zein stated that the gathering was established around forty years ago, calling for Islamic unity between Sunnis and Shiites, as well as national unity between Lebanese Muslims and Christians.
Sheikh Abdullah Speech:
Then, Head of the administrative body of the gathering, Sheikh Hassan Mahmoud Abdullah, gave the following speech:
“From the first day of your assumption of the Presidency of the Republic and your assumption of the reform brigade, we knew that the corruption lobby will obstruct all of your reform steps and that this lobby prefers to destroy the country rather than touching their fraudulent operations to illegally control public money.
If the matter had stood at this point, it would have been easier, but your adoption of the national options that take into consideration Lebanon’s interest over any other, and defending it in the face of the Zionist ambitions in its land, water, and oil, made it vulnerable to external pressures, especially from the United States of America, so the US imposed an economic blockade in which it used internal tools, so the two factors joined together corruption and spoilers on one hand, and external ambitions and adopting the point of view of the Zionist entity, especially in the demarcation of the borders in Block No. (9) on the other, to reach what we have reached today.
I call for speeding up the accountability of the corrupt, regardless of their affiliation, by forming a special judicial body of judges who are known for their competence and cleanliness of trial, to prosecute everyone who has reached out to public funds and recovering these funds, provided that the immunity of every person working with public money is lifted so that the authority can achieve justice. I also call for activating laws that fight corruption by activating the Audit Bureau, canceling contracts by mutual consent, adopting a financial plan that takes into account priorities in spending from public money, recovering looted funds, especially marine and river properties, and completing account cuts from past years in which we did not know where and the money was spent”.
Sheikh Abdullah affirmed work to “Bridge any section of sedition and preserve national unity and coexistence”, calling for upholding Lebanon’s right to its land and sea borders, especially Block No. (9).
“It is natural for Lebanon to be a country neutral from the crises of the region if its internal security and peace are not affected, but with a part of the homeland still occupied by the Zionist entity and ambitions of our land, our waters, and our soil,which are still present and confirmed day after day. The Takfirist groups are waiting to return to us again and with the help of regional and international powers, and seeking to complete the deal of the century which implies settling Palestinians in Lebanon and abolishing the right of return. We are at the heart of the event and there is no sense of neutrality here, and every means that contributes to protecting our country from these dangers must be preserved because we will continue working to restore the occupied lands and protecting our homeland.
I call for the return of the displaced Syrians to their homeland, after their country became mostly secure and capable to absorb them, and this imposes a direct dialogue between the Lebanese and Syrian states” Abdullah concluded.
President Aoun’s Reply:
For his side, the President welcomed the delegation, praising the addressed topics, and pointed out that “Lebanon has finally laid down a plan of return for Syrian refugees provided that in the next stage, a meeting of concerned authoritiesto arrange refugee return is called for, incoordination and agreement with Syria, and with the countries concerned with displaced affairs”.
“We have always called on the countries concerned with their affairs to do what they must in order to secure refugees’ return, and we waited for their positions, so that today we have to do what is practical to push these countries to fulfil their duties towards them” President Aoun said.
On the topic of corruption and the corrupt, President Aoun stressed the need to “Conduct an investigation on the sources of funds, and whoever manages these funds”.
“We will resort to adopting a successful method that secures handing over the files through criminal scrutiny, although we are facing resistance not at the popular level but at other levels, which requires your help because we cannot accomplish this matter unless there is a movement that supports us in doing so. There is no return to terrorism on Lebanese soil, because those who expelled the terrorists from our mountains and plains will not allow them in again” the President asserted.
President Aoun added that “Concerned authorities are vigilant in securing Southern borders, in light of Lebanon’s keenness to resolve the issues disputed with Israel, under the auspices of the United Nations”.
Finally, President Aoun addressed the economic crisis and the debts resulting thirty years, indicating that work is being done to secure increased aid to needy families, in accordance with the state’s ability and the assistance it receives.
And concerning neutrality, the President said that is does not mean that the state gives up its right to self-defense, “And from here we must maintain our position so that we will not attack anyone, and we will never support disputes and wars while we are obliged to defend ourselves, whether we are neutral or not” the President asserted.