Information Minister in Lebanon’s resigned government Waleed al Daouk, said he wouldn’t interfere in the affairs of any Arab country. He said: “I will not decide on behalf of the Arab people who went out to demonstrate. We should leave them to make their own decisions, and I hope they achieve more freedom and democracy.”
In an interview with Arab Today, Daouk commented on regional developments and his interpretation of current events in Egypt. He stated: “I refuse to interfere in someone else’s affairs, but I think that a president was elected by the people for a term of 4 years, and today there is an attempt to tip the balance.” Comparing the situation to what happened in France he continued “when the popularity of President Francois Hollande declined, did this mean that the French people should demand his resignation? I hope the Egyptian people know where their best interests lie.”
When asked about Turkey and the comparisons made between the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Daouk said “The crisis in Egypt is because of financial difficulties and declining conditions of living, while in Turkey we clearly see economic growth. Therefore the two situations can’t be compared. No-one can convince me that a couple of trees in Taksim caused all this.”
Regarding the change in leadership that took place in the Baath party in Syria, after the overthrow of Vice President Farouk al Shara, Daouk remarked “unfortunately, the number of deaths in Syria has reached 100,000, which is concerning and we wish that the officials in Syria would adopt non-violent solutions,” adding that the case of Lebanon should be viewed as a lesson. He described the situation in Syria as being more complicated than that in Lebanon. Daouk also drew attention to the two years of death and destruction in Syria with no gain for either side and called for Syrian politicians and religious leaders to be more aware of the actual situation.
When asked about Hezbollah and where it had failed or succeeded in its involvement in the Syrian civil war, the minister replied “maybe they were only successful in the battle of al-Qusayr. We hope they maintain their stance in resisting the Israeli enemy and continue its resistance concerning oil, which Israel has started to steal.”
He explained: “resistance is not only with weapons, there is diplomacy and other means but we have to protect the fuel and gas wealth.” He ruled out holding a cabinet session in the near future and expressed his hope that the oil issue would be a motivation to form the government as fast as possible.
Minister Daouk said he hoped that the government would be formed soon, and pointed out that the formation of governments in Lebanon was taking a long time as proven by the last three experiences. He explained that the President assigned Tamam Salam to complete the task which was delayed because of political conflicts.
He refuted the rumours that Najib Mikati, head of the current interim government, welcomed the delays in forming the new government.
He expressed his admiration of the “political sense and tact of the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri as well as his efforts to find ways for the parliamentary session to be successful and to allow Lebanon to enter a new phase in creating laws and regulations. This also includes the extension of the army chief’s mandate if the parliament fails to take action.” Daouk suggested that the self-distancing policy was the most important achievement of the Mikati government which was also respected by foreign governments.
The minister stated that protecting freedom of the press was essential. When asked about the inappropriate language that dominates the dialogues on Arab and national satellite channels he replied “I feel disgusted whenever I see what happens on the channels, and I blame the presenters for adding fuel to the fire.”
Concerning the project he presented on the legalisation of electronic media, Daouk admitted that not having an open dialogue with concerned parties had been a mistake. “After explaining the new law, the authorities also agreed to it” he said.
Commenting on the judicial appointments at Lebanon TV and the appointment of Talal al Makdessy as temporary Chairman and General Director, Daouk wished the director Ibrahim Khoury a speedy recovery from his illness which he said was the reason for the change.
About the media code of honour which was recently issued, he said “my colleague former Minister Tarek Metri is the one who issued it and I am trying to continue his efforts. The text was distributed, and I hope that media professionals will be committed to its application.” Earlier in July the National Audiovisual Media Council (NAMC) had urged the media to self-censor to prevent political tension.
Daouk explained “NAMC’s mandate expired many years ago but it has to ensure continuing public service. The council’s role is consultative but I hope its duties will be expanded so they can also conduct executive work.”
On the possibility of cancelling newspaper licenses he added “the licensing will not be cancelled overnight, and the director in charge will continue to do his tasks.”
In his concluding remarks Minister Daouk advised all who work in the media sector to “respect themselves and the work they do, as they have an important effect on the Lebanese people as we say ‘one word soothes, and another drives one mad’. My advice to politicians is to protect Lebanon which has been entrusted to you.”