Protesters reject Carlos Ghosn as possible Lebanese politician

Carlos Ghosn. (AFP)
Updated 16 November 2019

Protesters reject Carlos Ghosn as possible Lebanese politician

BEIRUT: While Carlos Ghosn battles corruption cases in Japan, men and women on the streets of his country of origin, Lebanon, are up in arms against the malaise over misconduct by those in power.

As the Brazil-born French businessman faces legal action over alleged corruption during his tenure as a former CEO of Nissan and Renault, Lebanese citizens are into their fourth week of anti-government demonstrations against the country’s political elite.

Which is why they do not see a fallen figure such as Ghosn as a future political leader in Lebanon. Arab News spoke to a cross-section of protesters to get their views on the possibility of Ghosn being part of a future Lebanese administration.

Some pointed out that the 65-year-old’s political affiliation to Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil would be a major impediment to him succeeding in domestic politics.

Architect Karl Osta said Ghosn may have been “successful” with Nissan but the case against him changed everything. “Even like talking about labor rights, he wasn’t good at it with his employees. I am not proud of him being of Lebanese origin.” 

If Ghosn was acquitted in Japan, 26-year-old Osta felt he would still not want him as a politician, believing that he would “try to regain from the Lebanese people what he lost in Japan.”

Lebanese chef, Ali Daher, 27, said: “The only thing I know is that he held a top managerial position at a famous car company. He never submitted any political agenda to judge whether he would make a successful politician. I don’t know if he has any political vision.”

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The Brazil-born French businessman faces legal action over alleged corruption during his tenure as a former CEO of Nissan and Renault.

Hanadi Gerjess, 29, said Ghosn’s links with Bassil, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement and son-in-law of Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, would make him an unpopular choice for many.

“Prior to his impeachment process in Japan, Ghosn was known to be a very successful businessman. Following his detention, Lebanon’s most hated political figure (Bassil) supported Ghosn and intervened in an attempt to have him released,” added the post-graduate student.

Retired photographer, Nawal Maroun, 64, has joined protests in Lebanon since day one calling for an end to corruption in the existing regime. “Ghosn accumulated huge wealth. Driven by greed, he continued making money … and ended up facing legal action in Japan. Even if he is acquitted, I believe that he’d still be the same.”

Housewife Sabah Baghdo said she had taken part in demonstrations in Lebanon because she strongly believed that anyone involved in corruption should face justice.

“I didn’t know much about Ghosn except recently when he got apprehended over embezzlement and corruption charges and is being tried. Every person is prone to commit a mistake … but mistakes differ in terms of gravity,” she added. “I wouldn’t trust him as a politician in Lebanon.”

Retired businessman, Sam Ballout, 65, said he would prefer Ghosn to stay out of Lebanese politics. “Nissan’s former CEO proved to be a greatly successful businessman who lost his credibility once he became affiliated with Bassil.

“I trust that the Japanese judiciary will find the truth. I had great respect for him as a credible and prosperous businessman … once he starts dealing with politicians, he loses that credibility.”

Abbas Hammoud, a 27-year-old Lebanese engineer, anticipated that Ghosn would fail in politics. “I might regard him on a personal level, but he hasn’t offered anything to Lebanon that would make me proud of him.”


Explosion hits Hezbollah building in southern Lebanon

Updated 6 min 13 sec ago

Explosion hits Hezbollah building in southern Lebanon

CAIRO: A huge explosion was heard in southern Lebanon in the village of Ain Qana, according to Lebanese broadcasters and witnesses.

The explosion occurred in an arms depot for Hezbollah in the village, one Lebanese security official in south Lebanon said, without elaborating on the cause. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
An official with the militant group Hezbollah confirmed there was an explosion but declined to give further details, according to the Associated Press. Another local Hezbollah official could not confirm any casualties and said the nature of the blast was not yet clear. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give official statements.

Members of the group imposed a security cordon around the area. Security sources said earlier there were injuries in the blast. 

Pictures from Lebanese news media showed clouds of dark smoke rose from the area. The cause of the blast about 50 km (30 miles) south of Beirut was not immediately clear.

Twitter account Intel Sky shared footage of what the explosion purportedly looks like.

The mysterious explosion comes seven weeks after the massive explosion at Beirut port, caused by the detonation of nearly 3,000 tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate. The explosion killed nearly 200 people, injured 6,500 and damaged tens of thousands of buildings in the capital, Beirut.
It is still not clear what caused the initial fire that ignited the chemicals, and so far no one has been held accountable.

(with Reuters and AP)