Dear International Friends of Lebanon, Stand With Us in Our Battle Against Corruption
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Dear International Community,
First off, we are deeply appreciative of your support for Lebanon over the years, and for your hosting of Lebanese migrants and refugees, many of whom have built businesses or organizations in your countries, and have otherwise served as positive productive members of our connected communities and economies. For this and much more, we thank you. As we Lebanese citizens work to address our current challenges and build stronger foundations for a better future, your constructive support is crucial.
While many existing political entities are heavily affiliated with and financially reliant on foreign governments and funding, the Lebanese people signing this document, insist that all political funding and political actions remain fully and independently supported by us citizens living in Lebanon and abroad.
Our number one challenge, far outweighing all other challenges combined, is corruption. It should be appreciated that any international financing that allows for corruption or mismanagement, especially debt financing that adds to the already substantial debt burden of the country, is actually more detrimental than helpful to the cause of the Lebanese people, and it will directly hurt Lebanese citizens, especially the vulnerable among us. The multiple crises currently facing Lebanon are fully due to the current and past failures, corruption, and mismanagement of the public sector.
While previous donor support to Lebanon has included provisions to reduce corruption, mismanagement, and inefficiency, we believe that such efforts have not gone far enough. Foreign financial support without sufficient anti-corruption and accountability measures have been key contributors to the strength and relentless exploitation of the country by the corrupt elements within Lebanon. The CEDRE commitments and the Capital Investment Plan, though addressing important issues, would have massively enriched and entrenched some of the most corrupt elements in Lebanon, while further indebting the country, and providing only partial solutions to our deepest challenges.
As citizens of Lebanon, we firmly request that all foreign support to our country, especially during these critical times, include these minimal standard processes:
- A Retroactive financial forensic auditing, from 1990 to present, to dissect and evaluate past governments’ contracts and compare value for money to appraise if past administrations’ dealings were fair expenditures for services rendered or an above market price, politically affiliated, embezzlement of public funds;
- Transparency, public auditing, and public reporting, as overseen by leading domestic and international NGOs involved in public sector transparency, along with auditing from reputable and independent international auditing firms;
- Fair, competitive, and public bidding, with involvement from domestic and international transparency organizations and international donor partners, to ensure fair processes and maximum value for the Lebanese citizens, and to avoid conflicts of interest by avoiding selection and financing of businesses that have any affiliation with public officials, family members of public officials, and political parties;
- Efficient project management to ensure best possible improvements in provision of public services across the country.
Even at this time of crisis, it is essential that strong safeguards be in place before any transfer of the above mentioned funds, or similar funds, to the Government of Lebanon or affiliated entity. We know that not all political parties and people in the political class are corrupt, and we believe in fair due process, but the corruption is widespread and must be addressed immediately. If the Government of Lebanon is not able to comply with such basic transparency and monitoring requirements, we encourage our Friends of Lebanon to allocate such funding to Lebanese NGOs and businesses to implement critical projects, also with proper transparency, management, and reporting requirements, with support from international partners as needed.
Additionally, the Lebanese people have issued basic demands for the new upcoming government, formed of specialists and qualified candidates in their field of expertise, separate from the existing political parties in power. We kindly and strongly ask that the international community refrain from adding, by means of financial and moral support, any political legitimacy to the current politicians and political parties which are no longer legitimate in the eyes of huge numbers of Lebanese citizens.
Once again, we deeply appreciate your support and friendship, and we look forward to building even deeper relations as we work towards rebuilding a stronger and more prosperous country.
The Lebanese People signing and supporting this letter
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