Hariri hopes Lebanon will ‘turn a new page’ in 2019

Saad Al-Hariri. (Reuters)
Updated 31 December 2018

Hariri hopes Lebanon will ‘turn a new page’ in 2019

  • Saad Hariri, hoped a new government would be formed in 2019

BEIRUT: Thousands of troops were on Lebanon’s streets Monday as the country prepared to ring in 2019.

A huge party was held in central Beirut for the second consecutive year, attracting people from the city’s neighborhoods and surrounding districts, and there were tough security measures in place from the military.

The Defense Ministry suspended issuing permits for carrying firearms on all Lebanese territory, and 13,000 military personnel were deployed to protect tourists, places of worship and commercial facilities, as well as manage traffic congestion.

Security forces reiterated their call for people to refrain from the deadly tradition of celebratory gunfire, saying that those carrying out this act would face prosecution.

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri, speaking at an event in the capital, said he hoped a new government would be formed in 2019.

The elections were in May 2018.

“I want the Lebanese to rejoice so that we turn a new page and think of the country and the people,” he said. “I hope the celebration meets the aspirations of the Lebanese people, and especially the people of Beirut.”

Economic bodies stressed the need to form a government at the beginning of 2019 and expressed their regret for the current turmoil, amid calls from social media users for a general strike. 

The country’s finance minister had earlier warned that Lebanon was entering a financial crisis.

“The repercussions and consequences of the economic crisis today are at their highest. “The crisis today has started to transform into a financial crisis from an economic crisis,” said Ali Hassan Khalil late on Saturday, according to Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency.

“We hope it will not become a monetary crisis,” he said.

Grocery shops in Beirut were packed, a sign that some families were preparing to spend New Year’s Eve at home, with prices for festivities skyrocketing to as much as $1,500 per person.


Former PM calls for overhaul of Turkey in challenge to Erdogan

Updated 2 min 12 sec ago

Former PM calls for overhaul of Turkey in challenge to Erdogan

  • Davutoglu said Turkey’s judiciary had turned into a mechanism “feared rather than trusted” and that its economy was in “deep crisis”
  • Without naming Erdogan, he sharply criticized the concentration of power around a leader who has ruled Turkey since early 2003

ANKARA: Turkey’s ex-premier Ahmet Davutoglu took aim at his former boss Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, saying the country was being held back by a concentration of power, economic crisis and an atmosphere of fear as he called for an overhaul of the political system.
“Those ruling Turkey have no agenda other than staying in power,” Davutoglu said as he announced his new party, which could further erode support for Erdogan after his ruling AKP suffered election setbacks in local elections earlier this year.
A day after applying to establish the breakaway Future Party, Davutoglu said Turkey’s judiciary had turned into a mechanism “feared rather than trusted” and that its economy was in “deep crisis.”
Davutoglu, 60, announced his resignation from the Islamist-rooted AKP in September, saying the party which has dominated Turkish politics for 17 years was no longer able to solve the country’s problems and was stifling internal debate.
“Despite all the pressure and the atmosphere of fear which they have tried to create...we have come together to set out a democratic and prosperous future for our country,” he said.
Davutoglu served as prime minister from 2014 to 2016, before falling out with the president and being replaced by another Erdogan loyalist as Turkey moved to a presidential system.
Without naming Erdogan, he sharply criticized the concentration of power around a leader who has ruled Turkey since early 2003, first as prime minister and then as president.
“The presidential system was constructed with the thought of transferring as much power as possible to the executive and increasing influence over the legislative and judiciary,” he said.
He said it was essential to fight corruption and guarantee the separation of powers, adding that efforts to control the judiciary must be seen as “the greatest of crimes.”
“We defend a democratic parliamentary system,” he added, calling for a new constitution.
Davutoglu resigned two months after former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan also left the AKP, citing deep differences. Babacan will announce his own rival political party within weeks, a source close to him said.
Polls show support for the new parties and their leaders in single percentage point figures, meaning they could pose little challenge to Erdogan and the AKP on their own.
However, after defeat in mayoral elections in Ankara and Istanbul this year, and with economic difficulties eroding his voter base, any loss of support could hit efforts to extend Erdogan’s rule. Elections are not scheduled until 2023.