New president should not to be 'a slave to Syria'
Asaad: Next leader must start reforms
By Karine Raad
Daily Star staff
Monday, July 12, 2004

BEIRUT: Opposition figure Ahmed Asaad strongly criticized on Sunday government officials of issuing statements condemning corruption, as though they were not responsible for bringing on the required reforms. He also called on the new president not to be "a slave to Syria."

Asaad, spoke during a gathering at the home of supporter Jaafar al-Rashid in the Tyre town of Majdal Zoun in the presence of some 50 people.

"You hear of statements from various political groups all condemning corruption, as though they had nothing to do with it. They call for reform, yet they offer no reform plan."

"Take (Speaker) Nabih Berri, he declares that the problem in Lebanon is a failure to implement the law which is legislated by Parliament," he said. "But Mr. Berri forgets, or pretends to forget, the responsibility of the Amal Movement ministers who are represented in the current and previous states and who have participated in economic decisions that have brought the situation to what it is now.

"The law can only be implemented by a state of law that is in turn built by political leaderships who implement the law," he said.

Asaad questioned Hizbullah's secretary-general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on why "despite Hizbullah's large resources" its members within Parliament do not proceed to open corruption files just as they prod the government to do so. "What is the role of your bloc in Parliament then? Silence? Retreat?"

"As for ministers who arrogantly and heroically criticize the government's performance and practices, yet they are part of it and have still not submitted their resignation, to them I say: These methods and practices of yours caused a change in the concept of noble political work in Lebanon, from one that is civilized and ethical to one that is retarded and corrupt."

Asaad criticized government officials' neglect in carrying out reforms they called for and asked them where was the program and detailed scientific plan to resuscitate the country in a bid to follow on international developments and meet the demands of the 21st century.

He also asked government officials whether they have the free will to carry out reforms once they decide to adopt a reform plan.

"In the absence of a political project and free will, does political work have an aim?"

Commenting on the upcoming presidential elections, Asaad accused government officials of taking Lebanese citizens for fools when claiming that it was not time to tackle the issue.

"Don't you know that everybody is aware that you are waiting for the secret word and that you do not have a choice?"

Asaad highlighted the importance of electing a new president who enjoyed a clear vision of the future and who possessed rge ability to build a modern government, integrity, honesty, power, pride, and courage to face all wrong, "cut the hand of the thief, and "preserve a certain distance from the Syrian regime."

The president should not be "Syria's enemy, but neither should he be a slave to Syria."

According to Asaad, the new president should start reforms in Lebanese-Syrian relations that should be hence built on true friendship and mutual respect.