Politicians have failed the Lebanese people


Lebanese, Lebanon, economic crisis Hezbollah, Budget

Lebanese society remains divided along sectarian lines and this has fuelled instability in the country.

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Published: Tue 22 Oct 2019, 11:59 AM

Last updated: Tue 22 Oct 2019, 2:04 PM

The economic crisis in Lebanon should be gauged through its complex society and warring ruling elites. The Taif Agreement signed in 1989 provided a blueprint for peace and development but the spirit of the pact signed by former militant foes has been ignored by the political class. Lebanese society remains divided along sectarian lines and this has fuelled instability in the country. It is now a playground for state and non-state actors. These players exploited Lebanon's frayed social and religious tensions for political gain. Lebanon may be a democracy but some actors like the Hezbollah exert excessive influence over the affairs of the country. Hezbollah controls a militia that possesses more firepower than the regular Lebanese army. It stood up to Israeli aggression which made it a force to be reckoned with, which does not help in nation-building or finding ways to fix the economy which is in free fall.
When society is divided along religious and sectarian lines, governments have little room for manoeuvre on the economy. Successive governments have found themselves caught between warring ideologies as militant faultlines run across the country. Heading a government is balancing act with parties and fronts putting religious and sectarian agendas before governance. Sunni, Shia, Christian Maronite and Druze lawmakers in parliament are in a tenuous relationship that has shown little progress on the administrative front by way of providing solutions to the woes of the average citizen who have had enough of political stalemate three decades after the 15-year Lebanese civil war killed thousands of people. Lebanese protesters want solutions and they want it now. PM Saad Hariri has made the right moves by slashing lawmakers' salaries by 50 per cent. Reforms must start at the top and the government and parliamentarians have made a symbolic sacrifice for the larger good. Austerity measures announced earlier have been withdrawn. It is a major concession, but there is a long way to go. People want jobs, food, education, healthcare and sanitation, and not a society at odds with itself. Lebanese politicians must unite for the sake of the people. The alternative is more grief and tears.

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