Storm in a teacup: Lebanon’s president and 1,675 kilos of finest Ceylon brew

Lebanese President Michel Aoun receives Sri Lankan Ambassador Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne in Baabda, Aug. 24, 2020. (Lebanese Presidency/HO)
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Updated 10 September 2020

Storm in a teacup: Lebanon’s president and 1,675 kilos of finest Ceylon brew

BEIRUT: So you’re the president of a country with a ruling elite widely held to be inept and corrupt, the economy is collapsing, and swaths of your capital city have been reduced to rubble by a devastating explosion.

It must be tempting just to sit down and have a nice cup of tea. But President Michel Aoun of Lebanon can’t even do that without getting into hot water.

The trouble started brewing when the president's office published a photo last month of Aoun receiving the Sri Lankan ambassador, who said Colombo had “donated 1,675 kilos of Ceylon tea to those affected by the Beirut blast.”

All well and good. The beleaguered residents of Gemmayze may have no homes, but at least they can be refreshed.

On Wednesday, however, it emerged that Aoun had written to Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa thanking him for the gift, which “was distributed to the families of the soldiers in the Presidential Guard Brigade.”

And that’s when it all boiled over. Aoun has a new social media hashtag — #TeaThief — and his conduct has been described as shameful, although admittedly not for the first time.

“The tea was sent to the Lebanese, particularly those affected by the explosion,” said independent MP Paula Yacoubian. “Of course it wasn't a present for those who don't need it. Distributing the aid to your entourage is shameful.”

One Lebanese Twitter user wrote: “Corruption in Lebanon continues. This government has 0 percent chance of changing.”


Jordan's monarch dissolves parliament in preparation for Nov election

Updated 21 min 10 sec ago

Jordan's monarch dissolves parliament in preparation for Nov election

AMMAN: Jordan's King Abdullah dissolved parliament on Sunday, officials said, which under constitutional rules means the government must resign within a week, paving the way for elections in November.
In July, Jordan's electoral commission set Nov. 10 as the date for parliamentary elections after the monarch called for countrywide polls to be held at the end of the parliament's four-year term.