BEIRUT: The never-ending feud between Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Joumblatt and the Free Patriotic Movement re-ignited Tuesday, with Joumblatt blasting the FPM for blaming the countries' economic woes on the Syrian refugee crisis.
Joumblatt took to Twitter with scathing remarks over the FPM's Syrian refugee policy, labeling it a "racist campaign" to divert attention from their shortcomings.
"Stop underestimating the minds of Lebanese by saying that Lebanon's economy might collapse as a result of the Syrian refugees' presence," he said.
كفى الاستهتار بعقول الناس بأن الاقتصاد اللبناني قد ينهار نتيجة وجود المشردين السوريين .اوقفوا تلك المتاجرة العنصرية الرخيصة .وكأن الانهيار مطلوب لاضعاف لبنان وافقاره وجعله لقمة سائغة بلا اية مناعة بعد تسليم درعا للنظام .اوقفوا البوارج التركية السبب المركزي للعجز في الموازنة pic.twitter.com/dRkjCuUocb— Walid Joumblatt (@walidjoumblatt) July 9, 2018
Joumblatt then asked "those in power about reforms in order to reduce the deficit and maintain the monetary situation instead of preaching about the collapse," prompting a reply from several FPM members.
Caretaker Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil was quick to tweet back, highlighting to Joumblatt that "the deficit is a direct result of the electricity services being provided to the Syrian refugees which amount to $333 million" according to a UNDP report published in 2017.
بحسب دراسة اجراها برنامج الامم المتحدة للتنمية UNDP سنة ٢.١٧: العجز المباشر الناتج عن الخدمة الكهربائية للنازحين السوريين ٣٣٣ مليون دولار اميركي و هو مرشح للارتفاع هذا العام مع ارتفاع اسعار المحروقات— Cesar Abi Khalil (@CesarAbiKhalil) July 10, 2018
Abi Khalil then tweeted out two reforms to be implemented to decrease the deficit, which include the "return of refugees and the closure of the Central Fund of the Displaced." The CFD and the Ministry of the Displaced were established in 1993 to provide support for Lebanese who have been displaced during the civil war. Since its establishment, the ministry has been mainly headed by members of Joumblatt's party.
خطوتين اصلاحيتين سوف تساهمان في خفض العجز لا يزال يرفضهما وليد جنبلاط:— Cesar Abi Khalil (@CesarAbiKhalil) July 10, 2018
١- عودة النازحين السوريين الذين قوضوا الاقتصاد الوطني و ٢- اقفال صندوق المهجرين الذي فاقت كلفته ٣٠٠٠ مليار دون تحقيق العودة المطلوبة
Last month, Joumblatt took a swipe at the FPM by labeling President Michel Aoun's tenure as a "failure" for blaming his presidency's shortcomings on the plight of Syrian refugees.
The PSP leader and FPM have been trading barbs ever since the conclusion of the country's first parliamentary elections in nine years on May 6, which yielded a sizeable win for the FPM and their allies after they increased their bloc to 29 MPs.
Joumblatt and his main Druze rival Talal Arslan, who aligned himself with the FPM, have been bickering over the allocation of ministerial portfolios, with Joumblatt demanding that his party solely picks the three Druze ministerial posts up for grabs, leaving Arslan out of the equation.
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