The former Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil’s invitation to represent Lebanon at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has been a very controversial topic. During a televised CNBC interview in Davos, the former minister was grilled by anchor and international correspondent, Hadley Gamble, as well as the Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag.
Bassil was challenged on his role in the government, and more specifically on how corruption in Lebanon has reached such a high level. Hadley opened the interview by asking the former minister, “How did you get here?” Trying to defend himself, he responded by saying that he traveled on his own expenses with “not one single lira at the expense of the country’s (Lebanon) treasury.”
He then added that “he got a favor from a friend” to which the Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag immediately responded by saying, “we are not allowed to have things like that when we’re in government,” and she went on asserting the importance of transparency of the politicians’ expenses, that it should never exceed their net salary.
Since Lebanon has been facing economic collapse, corruption, and popular protests, it’s only fair that Gebran Bassil’s claims have drawn widespread anger among the Lebanese people that led to thousands of signatures gathered to petition the ban of Bassil’s participation at the elite event.
Bassil managed to place himself as the target of growing animosity across Lebanon, and the subject of many anti-government protest chants.