Lebanese President Aoun warns of “atmosphere of civil war”, opposition boycotts “peace” meeting

BEIRUT – Lebanese President Michel Aoun warned of a civil war atmosphere while the country is facing a financial and political crisis, warning of what he described as attempts to stir sectarianism tension.

During a meeting to help ensure peace in Lebanon, President Aoun warned that several early indicators of a return to civil war, which took place between 1975-1990.

“We touched the atmosphere of civil war in a worrying way. Movements replete with sectarian tensions were launched in a suspicious manner,” Aoun stated.

Aoun’s statements pointed to the confrontations that took place in Beirut this month, which stirred old sectarian divisions between Shiites and Christians and Shiites and Sunnis.

The meeting organized by Aoun, a Maronite Christian, was boycotted by opponents including Sunni Muslim leader Saad al-Hariri who called the meeting a “waste of time”.

The real threat to Lebanon’s stability, said Hariri, was the deteriorating economic and financial situation, an issue that may not even be broached during the meeting which had no set agenda.

The exchange rate is the only matter of concern for the Lebanese people, Prime Minister Hassan Diab stated during the meeting, adding that, “Lebanese want the central bank to control the dollar exchange rate vis-à-vis the Lebanese pound and to preserve the value of their salaries and savings.”