The Deputy Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Elias Bou Saab, expressed his “dissatisfaction with the repercussions” that resulted from caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s "ill-conceived" decision to postpone the Daylight Savings Time (DST).
“Prime Minister Mikati bears the main responsibility for the decision. The Parliament Speaker [Nabih Berri] has the right to make any request from the prime minister; but this does not entitle the PM to approve the request, or its context, in the approach that had happened...” Bou Saab told Asharq Al-Awsat, stressing that "others have the right to make an opposing request too."
The deputy speaker, who belongs to the Strong Lebanon bloc headed by MP Gebran Bassil, strongly criticized the sectarian comments that were issued in parallel with the decision, saying that those came from different sides and posed threats to the country.
In response to a question about Bassil’s recent speech, in which he strongly criticized Mikati’s decision, Bou Saab stressed that Bassil had the right to express his objection to the decision, but added that he “made a mistake in using some vocabulary… because we are not allowed to respond to a wrong administrative decision with rhetoric that triggers sectarian instincts, even though I know that Bassil did not intend that.”
The deputy speaker also said he won't participate in the Christian meeting called for by the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rai, “because Lebanon needs inclusive national meetings… They need to meet together as Christian and Muslim deputies to get out of this crisis and elect a president for the republic.”
For his part, the minister of Social Affairs in the caretaker government, Hector Hajjar, who is affiliated with Bassil’s Free Patriotic Movement, noted that the debate over the DST was only aimed at “shifting the public opinion’s attention from basic matters and instigate divisions.”
In a statement on Twitter, Hajjar pointed to the increasing poverty rates in Lebanon and the lack of social protection for all segments of society.
“We are facing serious challenges that have been overlooked by the concerned authorities… including the salaries of public sector employees and the recent report of the International Monetary Fund,” he stated.
Similarly, the Meeting Our Lady of the Mountain expressed its rejection of the government’s decision to extend the winter time, while also criticizing the sectarian reaction that followed it.
“The meeting of Our Lady of the Mountain strongly condemns the sectarian incitement that took place, and confirms that what happened… highlights the inability of the political leaders to provide solutions to the major political and economic crises that Lebanon is afflicted with, especially the crisis of the presidency of the republic…” The political gathering said in a meeting on Monday.
Meanwhile, the caretaker Cabinet reversed the decision to postpone the country’s observation of the DST by one month, during a session on Monday.
In a televised address, Mikati announced that the Daylight Savings Time would now begin at the midnight of Wednesday/Thursday, explaining that the 48 hours would be needed to “address some technical issues created by the previous memo.”