In a press release by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Press Office this evening, it quoted the former PM as saying that, as Prime Minister, he in fact had to deal with two Presidents of the Republic at the same time.
I was always required to secure the relationship with the shadow president in order to protect stability with the original president, said Hariri.
In his speech on the 15th commemoration of the assassination of Martyr Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, during a ceremony in the Center House in the presence of a large number of officials and Future Movement supporters, Hariri said, addressing the shadow president: You wasted half of the president's mandate in disruption and cancellation wars. You sabotaged the mandate and registered the collapse of the country under your name and the name of the mandate.
To his supporters he said: I am not going anywhere. I am staying in my country and among my people and I will remain in the political work. The Future Movement will remain! The free, patriotic, sovereign Lebanese who want a country that befits them and their children will also remain and no one can scare them.
Hariri also reiterated his support for early elections.
In his detailed speech, Hariri said:
I am sure that each and every one of you and the majority of the Lebanese people are asking the following question in light of the financial and socio-economic crisis that we are facing: Where is Rafic Hariri? Where is the giant who can help us face this huge crisis?
Now you know how I have been feeling in the last 15 years, when every morning, every hour and every moment, I ask myself: Where are you, Rafic Hariri?
The assassination of Martyr Prime Minister Rafic Hariri 15 years ago was a historic turning point in the life of Lebanon, in which political, security and regional equations changed.
Fifteen years later, Lebanon is facing a new historical turning point.
For this reason, I will say what is in my heart. With all the friends who honored us with their presence and with the loyal people who accompanied me in the most difficult circumstances, at a time when loyalty has become scarce, and scarce currency has become a reason for the lack of loyalty.
First, let us salute the spirit of the Martyr Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and the souls of his comrades and all the martyrs of the March 14 Revolution, which remains the symbol of the end of guardianship and the security system.
The martyrs' sacrifices opened the doors of the large prison and freed decisions and leaderships from domination, detention and exile.
Fifteen difficult years. I faced, learned, made mistakes, won, was stabbed in the back, persevered, met honest and truthful companions but also opportunists, and discovered the horrors in the politicians and leaders' club.
But after every stab, after every wound, after every battle, and after every attempted political assassination, I used to stand again, look around, see your faces, hear your voices and feel your loyalty, and I would tell myself: Only truth will prevail...
In the last two months, we heard and read that the Future Movement no longer exists, that Saad Hariri traveled and will not return, that Saudi Arabia does not want him, America does not want him and maybe China does not want him as well! And the funniest thing is that they want to close the Center House...
Let them write and spread rumors and let us tell them the truth: the Future Movement, the movement of our martyr, the movement of Arabism, moderation and civil state, remains in your hearts ... despite the enviers!
The keys of the Center House are in the houses of Akkar, Tripoli, Minnieh, Denniye, Koura, Zgharta and Batroun, and the houses of Beirut, Saida, Tyre, Shebaa, Shouf, Iqlim, Metn, Keserwan, and all of the Bekaa...
So welcome to your house. The house to which you hold the keys cannot be shut down!
Nowadays, there is a large movement against all politicians. Everyone means everyone and no exceptions or extenuating circumstances. We, frankly, do not want to ride the wave of popular anger and distinguish ourselves from the political class, at a time when many political faces are acting like the stars of the revolution on TVs.
But the problem is that Rafic Hariri is targeted again and some politicians are still terrified of his charisma.
There is a political team that started to open files and talk about alternatives to Harirism and the fall of the Harirists, and is still following the Martyr Prime Minister from the nineties, to hold him accountable for the economic deterioration and public debt.
Not just that, they are all over the social media, blaming him for the 'Deal of the Century' and the joke of the resettlement. Yes I am saying: the joke of the resettlement!
Stop saying that we want the resettlement and stop frightening the Lebanese with all these lies. We are against any resettlement, and the constitution prohibits the resettlement, and resettlement is out of the question. Period!
What is more dangerous is the talk about the start of the countdown to the end of the Taif Agreement, and the return of Lebanon to pre-1989, to open the way for a new formula. It is not by chance that some write that the Taif Agreement reached its end...
In order for the agreement to end, Harirism must end, and for Harirism to end, Saad Hariri must be eliminated.
They refuse to see how Lebanon was before Rafic Hariri and who destroyed Lebanon during the civil war, and who saved it from the ruins of the war in four years.
The Lebanese know what Rafic Hariri did and how he brought Lebanon back on the world map. The people know and see that nothing major was achieved after the assassination of Rafic Hariri.
They did not leave any friend for Lebanon, and they did not make any agreement with any country, nor did they open a hospital, university, road or airport, not even a sanitary sewer. They are only good at digging graves and fabricating files and accusations.
After the assassination, the largest series of obstruction of the state and constitutional institutions in the history of Lebanon was organized. Seven years were lost due to the obstruction after the assassination of Martyr Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.
The closure of downtown Beirut, and 6 months of obstruction afterwards before the election of President Michel Sleiman, two years and a half of obstruction before the election of General Michel Aoun.
Assassinations, Israeli wars, intervention in the Syrian war and terrorism, suspension of the work of parliament for more than a year and a half, and delaying the formation of governments and disrupting cabinet sessions.
Seven years out of 14 were lost in stubbornness and obstinacy in the name of the respect for the National Pact and the rights of the confessions. Above all, they kept saying that it is the Harirism's fault.
They were all in ministries, departments and public institutions for 30 years. And many were there before. They participated in its councils, governments, quotas and snags. They did everything you can imagine. And in the end, they only held Rafic Hariri and his policies accountable for the public debt and the economic collapse.
Rafic Hariri secured 24 hours of electricity, but who took us back to rationing and generators? The Ministry of Energy, not even once in history, was headed by the Future Movement. Who headed the Ministry of Energy after 1999, and who headed it from 2005? Why did the cost of electricity reach fifty percent of the public debt? All of this is not mentioned in history's forgery books.
Ok, I will take responsibility, I am ready to take responsibility. But responsibility was shared by all, the Republic Presidency, the Government, Parliament and dialogue sessions.
When I accepted the settlement in order to elect a president, and acted against the general mood, I was seeing since 2014 how the Syrian scene was changing and how the borders opened to the waves of displacement, and Lebanon was plunging in security and sectarian problems, and bombings in the Bekaa, the suburb, and the two mosques in Tripoli.
Some thought the settlement was a distribution of power between the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister. But we saw it as a solution to protect the country from civil strife, prevent the Syrian fire from spreading to Tripoli, Beirut, Baalbek, Saida, Arsal, and others, and a possible way to stop the presidential vacuum and blockage of institutions.
Before the settlement, I tried to open the road to an agreement over the name of our friend Sleiman Frangie for the presidency, for the same goals, but what should I do if his allies, Sleiman's allies, prevented his election? The settlement lasted 3 years, and today it is part of the past, and it is history.
I know many of you are happy that the settlement has ended, but let me tell you: Do you see what is happening today? Severe shortage of liquidity, collapse of the Lebanese Pound, depositors' problems, layoffs, high prices and poverty? All of this was going to happen in 2016.
At that time, I assumed my responsibilities and said that in order to prevent the collapse, our country needs two things: ensuring stability and improving the economy.
After we made the settlement, meaning the political and security stability, we still had to improve the economy. We organized the CEDRE conference and ensured 12 billion dollars for the economy, based on reforms that we agreed on and promised to implement. If we had implemented the reforms, if we had implemented what we agreed upon, we would not be here today, and the collapse would not have occurred all over the country.
In fact if the Paris II reforms had been implemented 18 years ago, the country would not have reached this stage.
But what can I do if there are people who don't abide by their word? Some blame me and tell me: You should have made him sign a paper. But did he respect his signature on Ma'arab agreement?
I want to remind you that CEDRE was just before the elections and its implementation was the duty of the post-election government.
Let me tell you how much this government worked. To form this government, we had a six months delay because someone wanted to prevent the Lebanese Forces and the Socialist Party from having ministers in it. But of course they were failed attempts.
On this occasion, I salute Walid Jumblatt and confirm our steadfast alliance with him, yesterday, today and tomorrow! I want to pay tribute to Minister May Chidiac, who is not just the representative of the Lebanese Forces, but also a living martyr.
Then we had two months of delay, so they imposed ministers from the Consultative Gathering. This means eight months of delay in the formation of the government. After its formation, the government lived nine months, including a month of procrastination in the budget and two months of hindering after the Kabreshmoun incident.
The result is that after the CEDRE Conference, the government actually worked for six months. A mentality of elimination wars. One time they want to eliminate the Socialist Party and Walid Jumblatt, and another time they want to eliminate the Lebanese Forces, after the Ma'arab agreement, as if they never signed it! Another time, they want to abolish the protest movement and now they want to abolish Harirism and the Future Movement!
I tried to secure stability in the relationship between the Presidency and the Premiership, first because stability deserves patience, and second because the only result of the dispute between the presidencies is the paralysis of the institutions.
President Aoun knows how much I respect him and how much I appreciate his stances towards me, just as he appreciates my stances towards him. But unfortunately, I reached a place where I have to say that I dealt with two presidents. I was always required to secure the relationship with the shadow president to protect stability with the original president.
In the first government after the settlement, he said: This is not the government of the mandate because the government of the president comes after the parliamentary elections.
In the second government, after the elections, he said: This is the government of the mandate. But when things didn't go as he wants, after eight months of obstruction, he said: The government of the mandate will be the one without Saad Hariri.
Ok. Here you are. Now you have the government of the mandate.
You wasted half of the president's mandate in disruption and elimination wars. You sabotaged the mandate and registered the collapse of the country under your name and the name of the mandate...Bravo!
There is not one Lebanese on the face of the earth who didn't see that the country became in another place, and that October 17 is a crucial day and a wake-up call for the mandate, the government and parliament. There is only one person who does not want to see or let anyone at the Baabda Palace see.
The popular movement has become a partner in the political decision. The young women and men are demanding an opportunity for real and peaceful change, through early parliamentary elections. I announced, from Baabda, immediately after October 17, that I support early elections. Now I reiterate: We support early elections, and I call on everyone to think calmly and without any outbidding.
The Future Parliamentary Bloc will present a new electoral draft law just as mentioned in the Taef Accord as soon as possible. If the elections bring new faces, we welcome this, and we consider it a victory for the Future Movement.
The Lebanese people became experts in business and finance due to the amount of suggestions, information and solution proposals they heard.
But today, the budget, the reform paper and the ministerial statement are insufficient. And hardly the CEDRE program, if implemented, may open the way for an economic and investment leap.
We, in Lebanon, are not on an economic island, isolated from the support of friends, donor countries, and international financial institutions, and in the absence of trust from the Arab brothers, particularly Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, and the rest of the Arab Gulf states.
If anyone sees otherwise, let him try all the economic theories. We do not want to cheat the Lebanese nor do we want to have a populist race: How can we have tourism without the Arabs and the Gulf citizens? How can we open markets for the Lebanese products without the Arab markets and the Gulf in particular? Can someone tell us how can we protect the interests of one fourth of the Lebanese people benefitting from job opportunities in the Gulf, while we have daily problems with these states?
The Iranian cash money solves the crisis of a party, but it does not solve the crisis of a country.
The state cannot continue without clear policies and without serious reconciliations with the Lebanese people, the Arab countries, the friendly countries and the international institutions.
Finally, allow me to end with the internal house.
We are facing a new phase and the Future Movement is facing critical challenges on the level of political choices and organization, but most importantly at the level of the relationship with a wide audience all over Lebanon.
Quite frankly, I received comments from all the coordinators and regions, and from partisans and supporters, demanding a change in the methods and tools of work.
It is said: It is unacceptable that the Movement is working with minimum possibilities, becoming a refuge for opportunists and those who want to become ministers.
Some of the criticism is directed at me personally, and at the state of disconnect between the leadership and the base. There are young men and women who said it directly to me, and asked me to have a wider presence in the work of the Movement. My decision is clear: My decision is change in the Movement. Change and restructuring. The general convention of the Movement will convene in the coming months and elect a new leadership that will be a true partner in the political decision and the direct communication with the public.
It is not a secret, the financial crisis reflected on the activities of the Movement, and we tightened the belt and had to stop media, health and service institutions, where the sincerest young men and women worked for years. I would like to tell everyone who has rights that I cannot forget the rights of the people no matter how hard the times are.
As for the Movement, I am responsible and I am concerned with providing the conditions of work. This is something I want to continue regardless of the cost.
I want to be clear on one thing: I disagreed with 80 percent of the politicians about internal and regional matters, and I was in complete contradiction with parties and presidencies about Iran's role in the region and its interference in the affairs of Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Gulf states.
My stance was firm on the subject of refusing to normalize relations with the Syrian regime, refusing to insult Arab states and leaders and getting involved in the wars of the region. But this does not mean to leave the country to the unknown and take the Syrian war as a model to change the equations in Lebanon.
If my political destiny is linked to the decision to prevent sedition and the recurrence of the civil war, then ok. Frankly, I would never choose civil war. First, because I am the son of Rafic Hariri, and our work is construction and not destruction, our history is to teach young men and women, not burn them. Second, because the Future Movement will not work to serve the agendas of some political forces.
The outbidders can talk and give speeches. They will talk but the cost is on us, on Dar al-Fatwa, the sect and the people of the Future Movement. Here I want to address the Sunnis in general and the people of the Future Movement about the feeling of elimination, or the feeling that their representative was the only one who paid the price and left the premiership.
First: I left on my own will. There can't be democracy without democratic officials, officials who hear the voice of the people. I heard the voice of the people who demanded the resignation of the government and I submitted the resignation. The people demanded a technocrat government from outside the parties, but when I saw the kind of government that was being formed, I said: I don't want to be named Prime Minister and it is none of my business what others do. I will not add to the words of the Maronite Archbishop of Beirut a few days ago on Saint Maroun's Day.
Second: I am not going anywhere. I am staying in my country and among my people and I will remain in the political work.
Third: The Future Movement will remain!
Fourth: The Sunnis are one of the foundations of this country and this society. The Sunnis are here and are going nowhere!
Fifth: The free, patriotic, sovereign Lebanese who want a country that benefits them and their children will remain and no one can scare them.
Finally, let me return to the first question:
If Rafic Hariri were with us and heard the cry of the people, what would he have done? He would have toured the world to stop the collapse.
I promise you, regardless of my political position, that I will not spare any way and will tour the world to defend Lebanon and the Lebanese.
All together, we will face the difficulties and get out of the collapse. We tell all the people that after 15 years, not only Rafic Hariri remains, Rafic Hariri is starting once again!
Long live Lebanon!
Before Hariri's speech, a message from Mrs. Nazik Hariri was broadcasted, as well as a documentary entitled Hariri policies and the series of obstructions.
The ceremony was attended by a large crowd of supporters and a number of officials, among whom was MP Michel Moussa representing Speaker Nabih Berri, Democratic Gathering Head, MP Taymour Jumblatt, former Minister May Chidiac representing Lebanese Forces Chief Samir Geagea, former Minister Rony Areiji representing Marada Movement Head Sleiman Frangie, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdellatif Derian, religious and security figures and several Arab and Foreign ambassadors.
Source: National News Agency