U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that Hizbullah must become a political party, while noting that Lebanon needs a “new social contract” that would lead to the rebuilding of the middle class that has been ravaged by the country’s brutal economic and financial crisis.
Guterres, who is on a four-day visit to Lebanon, voiced his remarks in an interview with Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat that was published Tuesday evening.
Describing the situation in Lebanon as saddening and heartbreaking, the U.N. chief called on the Lebanese political leaders to show unity in order to carry out fundamental reforms.
He added that Hizbullah, which has a powerful Iran-backed armed wing, must transform into a political party to become like the rest of the political forces in the country.
Noting that the Lebanese Army requires huge investments in equipment and advanced assets, Guterres emphasized that “extremist” groups, be them “Shiite or Sunni,” should not be an alternative to the state.
And urging Gulf countries to be part of Lebanon’s revival, the U.N. chief said the small country needs a new social contract that would allow for the rebuilding of the middle case which has been destroyed.
He also said that he has received clear pledges from President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Najib Miqati that free and fair legislative elections will be held in early May.