BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Monday hit back at critics of his road map to break the presidential deadlock, accusing the Christian Gathering of intentionally misrepresenting his initiative.
After the Christian Gathering issued a statement calling Hariri’s plan an attack on the national pact, Hariri’s office said the group had “deliberately distorted” the former premier’s words.
“The Press Office noticed with great regret that those who prepared the aforementioned statement exerted great efforts to convey an incorrect reading of the speech of Premier Hariri, that deliberately distorted its noble purposes and overanalyzed intentions that don’t even exist,” the statement said.
It added that the Christian Gathering’s statement aimed at “taking the political dialogue in the country to new levels of complexity, in order to maintain the current situation and reject any progress toward finding a possible way out of the continuous vacancy in the presidency.”
The Christian Gathering – a group of businessmen, politicians and Greek Orthodox clerics – had blasted Hariri for rejecting MP Michel Aoun’s controversial proposal to have the Lebanese public elect the president instead of relying on MPs.
In his speech Friday during which he presented a road map to safeguard Lebanon, Hariri said that Aoun’s proposal would make the presidency a hostage “of sectarian voting” and endangered parity between Muslims and Christians.
The Christian Gathering said Hariri’s remarks were dangerous, hoping they were not made on purpose, as they represented a coup on the National Pact through subjecting the election of a president to foreign interference.
The group redoubled their support for Aoun’s initiative in their statement Monday. “The proposal to elect a president directly by the people in two phases eliminates these dangers and ensures the holding of presidential election without any foreign interference or internal manipulation.”
Hariri’s press office said it refused “to engage in arguments that intend to flood the political dialogue with fabricated, controversial issues, which would cover up the real problems and dangers facing the country.”
“It considers that the road map announced by Premier Hariri is clear enough and does not need any exceptional effort in analyzing the texts and intentions.”