The following is the statement by caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri, delivered at his home in Downtown Beirut Thursday:
“Dear Lebanese, brothers and sisters, friends,
Peace be upon you.
Six years ago, fate made me enter Lebanese political life. This would never have happened and I wouldn’t be speaking to you today and to all the brothers and friends in the world if a terrorist crime which claimed the life of martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and his righteous companions had not taken place.
I have taken, with my family, the decision to enter this arena in order to work on two lines: first, maintain the national legacy of martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and prevent the parties who planned this crime from achieving their goals by uprooting Rafik Hariri’s legacy from Lebanese national life, and second, uncover the truth and achieve justice in the terrorist assassination and all of the political crimes that targeted a number of Lebanese leaders and intellectual, media and military figures.
Preserving the national legacy of the martyr prime minister is not less important than being committed to the cause of justice. They are both part of the same cause, which is the protection of Lebanon. It is the cause that I dedicated myself to defend, and swore before God Almighty and all the Lebanese not to abandon, regardless of the circumstances and challenges.
Today, we are facing a new, crucial period in Lebanon’s history. I announced 10 days ago that the dignity of my people and compatriots is more precious than any position or power. This position is not for political or emotional consumption, because it lies at the heart of my national convictions and the education on which I was brought up, and which makes me renew this covenant to all the Lebanese.
Any drop of blood that falls from any Lebanese is more precious to me than all positions in power. For me, no power can be more important than my commitment to coexistence between the Lebanese and my attachment to the parliamentary democratic system as a way to regulate relations between Lebanese groups.
When we say that Lebanon is facing a crucial turning-point, this means that we have to define the choice: in which direction to move and take the responsibility of directing Lebanon.
The political and spiritual leaders of Lebanon hold in our hands the destiny of Lebanon. It is not true at all that outside schemes are drawing a road map toward the abyss. If Lebanese leaders decide to move Lebanon toward the abyss, then Lebanon will inevitably fall in this hole. But if Lebanese leaders decide to move Lebanon away from the abyss, then the country will remain safe. Threats of using the street are not part of our national upbringing.
We will not resort to the street, because from the start we chose the country’s institutions. We will not resort to the policy of threats, because we chose to resort to the Constitution and we will accept the political results of any democratic course, even if these results are the outcome of successive pressures.
Over the last months, I have struggled, and God knows, to ward off discord in Lebanon, through good words, and through responsible political practice, and I chose the road which was chosen by the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz, since the Kuwait summit two years ago.
I put forward one initiative after the other, and one sacrifice after the other, and found in the Saudi-Syrian efforts a way out from the political and sectarian disputes and a bridge toward a new phase in our national relations.
Unfortunately, however, movement in this direction stopped; we then moved to a new phase of efforts by Arab and friendly states, based on the efforts of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and then to the joint initiative of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with the blessing of the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
The Lebanese and Arab brothers have been aware of this initiative, which started in Damascus, and reproduced a new diplomatic movement on the basis of commitments reached by Syria and Saudi Arabia, and this resulted in the visit of Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
Integrity requires me to be frank with all the Lebanese and not just one political party. It also requires me to address all Lebanese, regardless of their political affiliation, to say that in our dealings with all of these efforts, especially the Saudi-Syrian efforts and then the Turkish-Qatari efforts, we reached the level of the great martyrdom of martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
This means that I decided to endorse the settlement to the maximum and I responded to the directives of the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and committed to the articles reached by the joint Turkish-Qatari efforts to preserve coexistence. But once again the solution was halted, and they returned at dawn to inform the Qatari and Turkish envoys of one sole demand: The return of Saad Hariri to the post of prime minister is unacceptable. They put the items of solution aside and didn’t submit any comment or observation. They only requested that Saad Hariri be excluded from the prime minister’s post.
The Lebanese have the right to recall the experience of 1998 and remember the black campaign that targeted martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the voices that called for removing Rafik Hariri from power. The same scene is repeating itself, with the same voices, with parties blinded by the lust for power. And the goal is one: Put martyr Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on trial and drive Saad Hariri out of the national equation and announce his political assassination.
Dear brothers and sisters,
I do not feel that we are facing a dead-end during these hours. Instead, I feel that my patriotic responsibility requires me to work on locating a big hole in the wall of this impasse. If what is being asked is to exclude Saad Hariri from the prime minister’s post, this is not a problem.
There is a constitutional path, and we abide by any decision that results from it, irrespective of the climate of intimidation surrounding this path in the street, and out of the street.
We will participate in the parliamentary consultations that will be undertaken by the president of the republic next Monday and we will offer our opinion according to our principles, and remain committed to my candidacy for prime minister, on behalf of the Future bloc of MPs and other allies.
It is important for us to abide by the Constitution and constitutional institutions, as a basis for everyone to act upon, and not unequal treatment, which will render the democratic process hostage to the will of the street.
I was 3 years old when the Civil War erupted in Lebanon, and I am now 40. This means that I have lived for 37 years, and 90 percent of my life, in a country struggling between war and peace, between division and unity, and between safety and anguish.
Today I look back in time and I see myself in all the young Lebanese men and women; I aspire to salvation from this historical ordeal, which has invaded the homes, regions and communities of all the Lebanese, with no exceptions. During this time, I accompanied a father longing for the progress of his country and his nation.
In my position in the political arena, I have faced circumstances, challenges and changes similar to those that confronted my father, the martyr prime minister, and prompted him to uphold reason, and choose public interest over narrow personal interests.
We belong to a national, political and moral school, called the school of Rafik Hariri, which chose in the darkest hours of anger to seal off the path of revenge and retaliation, and instead follow the path of truth and justice.
And you all know Rafik Hariri, as a man of Arab dreams, who made strides in the fields of national and humanitarian success and excelled in the fields of economy, reconstruction and politics; he enjoyed a fine reputation when it came to joint Arab action, and launched great vitality in Lebanese national life, until God Almighty chose him to be a martyr for his nation, his country and the dignity of his people.
He rejected the game of blood, while in and out of power, and dedicated his life to the cause of peace in his country. He fought against civil war, until he defeated it, with the help of his brothers and partners in his country, through the Taif Accord; afterward, he drew up a road map to renew confidence in Lebanon and return it to its natural position in the world.
They killed him, and assassinated with him, and later on, an elite of Lebanese, but they could not assassinate the spirit of coexistence among the Lebanese. Because the blood of Rafik Hariri was not, and will not be, the arena in which the national unity equation will be destroyed, and because the cause of Rafik Hariri will not be a storm they use in order to gamble with the fate of Lebanon.
And discord is not the price requested for truth and justice. May God damn discord and he who causes it.
Dear brothers and sisters, we have not come all this way, offered all of these sacrifices, led the effort to rebuild the country and supported the foundations of socio-economic growth, as well as the steadfastness of Lebanon and its people in the face of the Israeli enemy, for us to give all of this away to discord.
Our political system, based on the rotation of power and on coexistence, will not mean anything if we hand our children’s future over to further conflicts and wars.
We are guardians of a national process, and we shall remain with God’s help, loyal to it and to its martyrs.
We will remain loyal to Lebanon’s unity, Arab identity, and the dignity of its people, and the people’s social, economic and development priorities shall remain at the forefront of our concerns, whether we are in or out of power.
We will not abandon our responsibilities and obligations, not in the Parliament, nor in the political life, nor in the Future Movement, nor at work with all the friends and allies, in order to reach a developed, modern, sovereign, Arab, free and independent state.
Injustice will not stop me from pursuing the march, as long as God wants me to continue this march.
“In the name of God all Merciful,
Do not think that Allah is unaware of the wicked but he delays revealing them for a day when eyes will stare.”
May God’s peace be upon you, long live Lebanon.”