Lahoud Vows to Safeguard Lebanon’s Unity
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud took a tough line against the increasingly divisive debate over the Syrian presence on Monday, vowing that the state would prevent “chaos” in the country, according to the Daily Star newspaper.
“The Lebanese, who endured so much in the past because of domestic divisions, have no desire to return to the past,” he told the Constitutional Council.
“We won’t allow any adventure to take the country back to the atmosphere of chaos that marked the civil war.”
The president’s comments came amid increasing sectarian tension in the country over the Syrian presence.
The army promised Monday to crack down on any protests that are not approved by the government, said the paper.
“The army leadership … will take strict security measures in all areas to prevent unlicensed gatherings and demonstrations which aim at upsetting stability and provoking sedition,” a statement by the army said, cited by the paper.
The Interior Ministry said Saturday it would ban protests “to thwart any new attempt to stir sensitive and sectarian feelings.”
The army also warned that “we will pursue all those who violate this (order).”
A political source said any activity threatening stability would not receive government approval. “Preserving security is the state’s priority,” he said.
In addition, State Prosecutor Adnan Addoum instructed all prosecutors to gather information and conduct investigations into any “disorderly acts” aimed at causing “sectarian strife.” He told chief prosecutors they must oversee the investigations.
However, attempts at mediation are underway between Lahoud and the Maronite patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, who has been highly critical of the Syrian presence, the Daily Star said.
MP Farid Kazen visited Lahoud Monday and will meet Sfeir Tuesday. The MP appeared positive about the possibility of reaching a compromise, asserting that “things are going in the right direction.”
Within the same context, Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri backed Syria’s role in Lebanon in a message delivered to Syrian President Bashar Assad for the Baath Party’s 54th anniversary, said the paper.
“I’m confident that our hands will always stay united in the interest of Syria, Lebanon and the Arab nation,” said Hariri, adding that he was “very committed to the pursuit of coordination and solid cooperation between our two brother countries.” – Albawaba.com