Aoun Calls for ‘Immunizing Independence’, Says Army Can Defend Borders

President Michel Aoun on Monday called for “immunizing independence” and noted that the army has the ability to defend Lebanon’s borders should its capabilities be boosted.

“We must immunize independence through refraining from seeking help from foreign forces… to achieve partisan interests at the expense of the public interest,” said Aoun in an address to the nation on the eve of Lebanon’s Independence Day.

“Enhancing national unity is a top necessity and priority because it would immunize Lebanon and secure its stability,” Aoun added.

He noted that “we have brothers who live in border regions in the North and the South and they represent Lebanon’s first protection shield.”

“We must give them special care in order to develop their towns and villages,” Aoun stressed.

And hailing the Lebanese army for “gaining citizens’ confidence and being their source of security and serenity,” the president underlined that the army “can do on the borders what it is doing inside the country should its technical and training capabilities be boosted.”

“When dangers threaten the country, the army remains its security valve and the firm core of its national unity,” Aoun added.

He also called for “liberating civil servants from the culture of corruption.”

Aoun’s election after two and a half years of presidential void and Saad Hariri’s appointment as premier-designate have raised hopes that Lebanon can begin tackling challenges including a stagnant economy, a moribund political class and the influx of more than a million Syrian refugees.

In addition to pledges of economic growth and security, Aoun said in his oath of office that Lebanon must work to ensure Syrian refugees “can return quickly” to their country.

Aoun also pledged to endorse an “independent foreign policy” and to protect Lebanon from “the fires burning across the region.”