Lebanon turns a new page, officials say

Following Hariri’s shock resignation from Saudi Arabia on November 4, Lebanon’s monetary and financial stability plunged into uncertainty, with officials vying to weather the crisis as best they could.
by Georgi Azar

6 December 2017 | 17:37

Source: by Annahar

  • by Georgi Azar
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 6 December 2017 | 17:37

A picture of President Michel Aoun (right) holding talks with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Phillipe Lazzarini at the Baabda Presidential Palace (NNA Photo).

BEIRUT: A day after Prime Minister Saad Hariri rescinded his resignation, top Lebanese officials sought to alleviate the fears of investors and concerned citizens, asserting that the crisis which engulfed Lebanon in the aftermath of his resignation has come to an end. 

Following Hariri’s shock resignation from Saudi Arabia on November 4, Lebanon’s monetary and financial stability plunged into uncertainty, with officials vying to weather the crisis.

The announcement of Hariri withdrawing his resignation following a Cabinet session Tuesday was welcomed across the board, with President Michel Aoun saying Wednesday that “the consensus deal represents a victory for Lebanon, with the country’s stability, security and peace essentially maintained.”

This sentiment was echoed by United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Phillipe Lazzarini as well, who stressed following his meeting with Aoun that the “UN’ Security Council fully supports the strides made by Lebanon in recent days,” while praising “Aoun’s ability to strengthen Lebanon’s national unity”.

Aoun also added that the current government would continue its work until upcoming parliamentary elections are held in May 2018.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri dubbed the political deal that safeguarded the country's stability a positive step toward restoring Lebanon’s government and thus” enabling it to continue its work and resume its efforts regarding several issues, such as the oil and gas exploration project.”

In a statement released Wednesday, Hariri defended the banking sector’s legitimacy in terms of financial dealings by pointing to the existing cooperation between Lebanon’s Central Bank and the U.S. Treasury.

These remarks came in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir accusing the country’s banking sector as a whole of aiding and abetting Hezbollah’s money laundering activities.

Hariri then expressed his satisfaction regarding the consensus deal with rival political parties that brought an end to the political crisis that had engulfed the country since his abrupt resignation from Saudi Arabia.

“These past several months have been challenging, however, our main focus has always been to maintain Lebanon’s stability, security, and safety of every citizen”, he said.

Hariri also made it clear that he retracted his resignation after the commitment of all parties involved to achieve a true policy of dissociation, saying that “the issue at hand concerns Lebanon and its people.”

He also acknowledged the differences between his party and Hezbollah, saying that both groups “disagree on certain issues, yet the need to address the financial burdens of a number of citizens and the plight of the Syrian refugees remains paramount.”

Hariri is expected to meet with Foreign Ministers from major powers when the International Support Group on Lebanon meets on Friday, with discussions focusing on efforts to further stabilize the country.

Hariri retracted his resignation at the end of the first Cabinet meeting held since Lebanon plunged into a political crisis in light of his shock decision.

The Cabinet session endorsed a statement that calls on rival Lebanese groups to distance themselves from regional conflicts and the internal affairs of Arab countries, with Hariri saying following the meeting that “the Lebanese government, through all its political components, disassociates itself from any conflicts or wars, as well as the internal affairs of Arab countries to protect Lebanon's political and economic relations with its Arab brothers.”

France has been credited with mending bridges and facilitating Hariri’s return to Lebanon, after leading the charge of an international diplomatic effort to secure his exit from Saudi Arabia.

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