Bassil Warns of 'Strife', Says Rival Political Parties Exploiting Protests
Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Friday warned that the ongoing mass protests might descend into “chaos” and “civil strife,” as he lamented that some political parties are exploiting the demos to topple the presidency, the government and the parliament.
“What happened is the result of accumulating crises and failures,” Bassil said in a televised address from the Baabda Palace after meeting with President Michel Aoun.
“What’s happening may be a chance and it also may turn into a big disaster and might plunge us into chaos and strife,” Bassil warned.
“Some domestic parties are exploiting the honest popular protests to achieve their goals of toppling the presidency, the government and the parliament,” Bassil added, in a possible reference to the Lebanese Forces, the Progressive Socialist Party and the Kataeb Party.
Noting that “people have the right to demonstrate,” Bassil said that Prime Minister Saad Hariri is “ready for reform,” Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is “standing by us” and Speaker Nabih Berri is “keen on the Baabda economic paper.”
“It is enough to show the people that we are serious,” he added.
“I'm willing to ask our ministers and MPs to lift their immunity and bank secrecy,” he suggested.
Pointing out that there is still “a rescue opportunity within a few days” and “without empty promises,” Bassil said the government parties “must meet and work despite the presence of the people on the streets.”
Bassil also warned that the alternative to the current government is “ambiguous” and “might be much worse than the current situation, especially in the absence of a government,” cautioning that a “known and unknown fifth column” might infiltrate the protests and trigger “chaos” and “strife.”
“What's happening on the streets is not targeted against us; it is rather in harmony with our demands,” he said.
“The coming will be worse unless things are addressed,” Bassil warned, noting that unrest could carry with it a financial meltdown and a currency devaluation.