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The Lebanese are tired of political games

We should analyze last week’s protest by Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun’s supporters

Nayla Tueni

Published: Updated:

No gloating is intended here and there’s no attempt to gloat because political work requires realism and moderation. This is how we should analyze last week’s protest by Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun’s supporters in order to benefit when looking to the future and analyzing political activity on the street.

Aoun is demanding an inter-Christian referendum that with time has turned into a de-facto poll that’s non-binding to all parties, whether those who consented to it or rejected it altogether. However, Aoun has begun with mobilizing a delegation of supporters with having them protest in Downtown Beirut. He justified the small number of protestors, saying he did not call for a popular mobilization. This statement is actually half true as prior to this protest, he had elevated the rhetoric among his Christian protestors and among the Lebanese people in general in hopes to mobilize people and send a message to his rival saying: “Look how people support our demands and how they took to the streets in rejection of the status quo.”

Not as expected

However, things didn’t go as Aoun expected as according to security reports, delegations who visited Aoun at Rabieh were very small in number and the cameras have resorted to the zoom in and zoom out technique to make it look like there are crowds. The excuse was that the zone in which he received the delegations does not fit more people. As for the protests at Downtown, the number of protestors did not exceed 200 and they included former and current ministers and members of parliament who spoke to television stations inciting people to take to the streets with them. However all this yielded no results.

Therefore we must adopt a different perspective when it comes to political street activity as people, regardless of which political party they are affiliated with, have grown tired of this game and of speeches which are not rooted in fact. Many Lebanese people have actually realized that several parties’ demands actually have personal rather than patriotic aims and that they mostly aim to serve short-term interests.

Last week’s Downtown protest was one symptom of what Aoun wants and other symptoms may not be any better, especially with what I see as his growing tendency to ignore his allies’ stances – an act that reflects on his popularity among both, his allies’ and rivals’ supporters. I believe that Aoun’s anti-media tendency has also worsened and this negatively affects the Christian and national public opinion which are greatly influenced by what the media presents.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on July 16, 2015.

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Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni

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