Bahaa Hariri, son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri has said the world is close to gradually going back to normalcy in a post-coronavirus world, but in Lebanon, there is no strong government that can help boost economic activity throughout the country.
Bahaa is also the brother of previous Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who resigned in October 2019 as mass popular protests swept across the country as the economy began to cripple due to a dollar shortage in the country, which are needed to pay for imports that the country relies upon.
“Unfortunately, [we do not have] a strong, responsible, honest and economically solid nation [government] that can take on the burden of instigating activity throughout the country,” Bahaa said in a statement released by his media office.
Today, the country’s economy continues to take a nose dive, and the local currency is spiraling. Inflation and hunger are on the rise, and the coronavirus lockdown, while gradually lifting, made life harder for many in the country who couldn’t afford to be put out of work.
The protest movement that began last year has seen a resurgence, with a spate of bank burnings across the country.
“From this point we do not see an alternative except to support the calls of the just revolution in a drastic change in the structure of the Lebanese regime and society, and in the way that public life is run, and safeguarding the livelihood of the citizens, and returning their dignity which has been lost due to the current political system,” he said in the statement.
“We must support the Lebanese demands to establish a new social order that does justice to all citizens and establishes a just state and the rule of law.”
He continued that after 2005 – the year in which his father was assassinated – the majority of politicians and parties in Lebanon accumulated power and funds “at the expense of the homeland.”
Bahaa, is currently worth around $2 billion – a fortune he inherited from his father, according to Forbes. In 2004, Rafic Hariri’s fortune was around $4.3 billion, and he was ranked the 108th richest man in the world. The Hariri family began ammassing its wealth through Rafic’s establishment of construction company Saudi Ogero.
Rafic’s policies are criticized for widening the income inequality gap in the country, and his post-war construction policies left massive public debt and a budget deficit.
Initially though, Rafic was welcomed as the man to help Lebanon recover from its devastating 15-year civil war.
“He put the country back on the international financial map through the issuing of Eurobonds and won plaudits from the World Bank for his plan to borrow and beg for reconstruction money,” the BBC wrote in a 2014 profile.
But today, the gap between rich and poor in the country is wider than ever, and it has contributed to the popular unrest in the country.
“Today, everyone is equal in suffering, thanks to this voracious and greedy system,” the statement said.
- Out of sight, out of mind: Lebanon expands landfill to clear garbage from streets
- Lebanon's head of money changers arrested for selling dollars in ‘illegal manner’
- Coronavirus: The US will not fund Lebanon's Hezbollah-run hospitals, says official
- Lebanon recovery plan based on flexible exchange rate: Finance minister