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'Tea thief' president Michel Aoun of Lebanon in better days.

Lebanese president in hot water over tea theft

Another act of shame by embattled Lebanese president Michel Aoun, this time for stealing a large quantity of tea meant for the poor and needed. Aoun is in hot water after it was revealed that tea donated by Sri Lanka for victims of the Beirut blast was distributed to families of his presidential guards.

By Arthur Blok
‘Tea Gate’ is another, rather delicate, example of institutionalized corruption in a country reeling from the August 4 explosion that killed at least 190 people, wounded thousands and ravaged central Beirut.

Sri Lanka donated 1,675 kilos of Ceylon tea in an effort to show support in the wake of the devastating blast in the Beirut Port. The president’s office released a picture of Aoun receiving the Sri Lankan ambassador saying Colombo had donated the Ceylon tea “to those affected by the Beirut blast.”

After questioned about the use of the tea, Aoun’s office released a statement saying the “Ceylon tea had been received by the army… and distributed to the families of soldiers in the presidential guard.”

Aoun received backlash, with “tea-thief” and “Ceylon-tea-thief” trending on Twitter. Former Lebanese Member of Parliament Paula Yacoubian said that “distributing the aid to your entourage is shameful.”

The MP who resigned after the blast added: “The tea was sent to the Lebanese, particularly those affected by the explosion. It wasn’t a present for those who don’t need it.”

Storm in a teacup
Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Lebanon, Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne, said the controversy was merely “a storm in a teacup.” The ambassador said the tea was a gift for Aoun who was free to do with it as he wished.

Sri Lanka was one of several nations that rushed to show support after Lebanon’s worst peacetime disaster last month.

With agencies

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3 comments

  1. What a ‘stir’ and a ‘stain’ on his already-blackened reputation! I mean this really takes the biscuit! I guess he won’t be milking it any more after this public scolding! It is like a mixed blend of bad judgment and bitter aftertaste! I bet the Sri Lankans are steaming too – i know that I would be boiling over even though this in global terms is just a small spill! No matter how much Aoun tries to brew on it – there is just no way he can sweeten up on this and it’s going to take some time for the news to cool down! He will just have to take the heat and swallow his tongue! Perhaps he should quickly switch to instant coffee now (even though it may not be his cup of tea) so he can fake a media splash about this dark political bagging not even being his true preference while pretending the full-of-beans laugh-off! Most people would find that unpalettable too though so no such rich pickings there either Mr. Aoun – you can’t just turn over a new leaf on that one I suppose! There is just no way he can simply pour cold water on the whole situation and get it cleaned up in one single wipe! What a mug hey!!

  2. All politicians are sickopaths.

    • Angel NicGillicuddy

      Maybe there was cash money in the tea chests.
      A bonus for each of the government soldiers.
      Too bad the tea
      and the money
      didn’t make it to it’s intended destination;
      The Sri Lankan Workers and their friends.
      Angel NicGillicuddy 💜

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