BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman’s visit to one country among three he toured in South America last week has cost over $600,000, Arab Tawhid Party leader Wiam Wahhab said Sunday, questioning what benefits this trip yields to the Lebanese. “I knew from the Finance Ministry that one trip to one of the countries in Latin America days ago has cost LL1 billion [$660,000],” Wahhab told Druze sheikhs from Hasbaya who visited him in his Chouf village. “I don’t know what these trips provide for the Lebanese at a time when only LL5 billion can help in [saving the agriculture season] and solving the problems of many poor people,” Wahhab said. The former minister called on the government to buy the olive oil of Hasbaya farmers, urging ministers hailing from the district to press for that action. Sleiman wrapped up his tour Sunday, a one-week trip that included the South American-Arab countries summit and side trips to Argentina and Uruguay, where he held talks with officials and met members of the Lebanese community. Wahhab said that senior Druze sheikhs, rather than one or two Druze political leaders, should decide on the sect’s stance for important events.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 08, 2012, on page 4.