BEIRUT: Minister of Energy and Water Jibran Bassil denied Thursday that a group of recent promotions of employees at oil installations in the northern city of Tripoli had excluded Sunnis.Instead, he provided figures to show what he called a sectarian imbalance in the country’s bureaucracy that has favored Muslims over Christians.
Bassil was the target of media campaigns by some Future lawmakers in the north who accused him of excluding Sunnis and Christians who are not loyal to Bassil’s Free Patriotic Movement in the promotions awarded last week at the Tripoli-based oil facilities.
“The most loathsome thing for us is to use sectarian rhetoric. But we should not be silent about the distortion of facts or the injustice inflicted on some Lebanese,” Bassil told a news conference at his office in the Energy Ministry.
“What happened was that promotions were evenly divided, covering a total of 96 people, 48 Muslims and 48 Christians,” Bassil said, adding: “The Christians had very much been treated unjustly. When [promotions] were evenly divided, they were somewhat justly treated, namely in Tripoli.”
Bassil said the number of employees in the Tripoli installations stood at 285, of whom 90 are Christians and 195 Muslims.
“Where is the justice and equality that we talk about? In all [the country’s oil installations], the number of employees is 397. Of these 100 are Christians and 297 are Muslims, or 25 percent go to Christians. Is this an even split?” Bassil asked.
He said that since he was appointed a minister two years ago, he had made no appointments to the civil service.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 20, 2012, on page 2.