Bou Saab says Bassil, others incited sectarianism over clock change


Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab criticized his bloc's chief Jebran Bassil for his reaction to the caretaker Prime Minister's decision to delay shifting to summer time.

"Bassil made a mistake when he used certain words," Bou Saab told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper in remarks published Tuesday.

"One cannot respond to a wrong administrative decision with a rhetoric that incites sectarian instincts," he said, adding that he knows that it was not "intentional".

Bassil had said Sunday in a tensed speech that "they want a president who would separate Lebanon from the world, the same as they have separated it from global timing with an arbitrary decision, turning the problem into a sectarian one.”

“You want to run the country the same as you deal with the clock issue, but we will not let you!” the Free Patriotic Movement chief added.

Bou Saab blamed Mikati alone for the "unconsidered" decision, but also criticized the sectarian reactions, condemning "the sectarian incitement that came with the decision, from different sides."

Lebanon had been scheduled to roll clocks forward by one hour last weekend, but authorities then announced in a surprise move late last week that the switch would be delayed by about a month.

On Monday, the caretaker government reversed the unpopular decision that left the crisis-hit country with two time zones and growing concerns over sectarian divisions, after many Christian politicians and institutions, including the Maronite Church, rejected the move.

After the government's decision to shift to summer time, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi told Mikati in a call that "Lebanon needs, at this delicate stage, more wise decisions that unite the Lebanese and remove all forms of division between them."

For his part, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea tweeted that the government's decision on Monday is "a virtue", a word from the well-known Arabic proverb that says that "admitting a mistake is a virtue."

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