Salam Warns against Chaos over Waste Crisis

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has said that the demands of civil society on the country's waste crisis are “righteous” but he warned against attempts to create chaos.

The civil society protests are “righteous,” Salam told As Safir newspaper in remarks published on Monday. But the PM warned against “creating chaos and destruction as a result of some suspicious practices.”

He also warned protesters not to pave way for politicians to exploit their demands as a result of their deep rivalry. “This would lead the country towards destruction.”

“It is the right of the people to demonstrate as a result of bad management, corruption and division of shares,” he said. “The people should continue to call for their rightful demands and make their voices heard, particularly that the basic democratic aspects are missing.”

“There is a vacuum in the presidency, legislative work is paralyzed and the cabinet has stopped functioning,” Salam told As Safir.

The premier blamed all the political parties for the snowballing garbage crisis “as a result of their differences and their efforts to seek their political interests.”

The crisis erupted when Lebanon's largest landfill in the town of Naameh south of Beirut was closed in mid-July. Garbage began piling up on the streets of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, leading to demonstrations against the authorities.

Among civil society's demands is the resignation of Environment Minister Mohammed al-Mashnouq whom they accuse of failing to resolve the problem.

Al-Mashnouq has refused to resign but has withdrawn from a committee tasked with coming up with an appropriate waste management plan.

Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayyeb took over the file last week and proposed a plan to the government that approved it.

The plan, which calls for reopening the Naameh landfill for seven days to dump the garbage that accumulated in random sites, was rejected by civil society.

It also envisions converting two existing dumps, in the northern Akkar area of Srar and the eastern border area of al-Masnaa, into sanitary landfills capable of receiving trash for more than a year.



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