Syria's military presence in Lebanon has transformed the country into a Syrian "colony", former Lebanese president Amin Gemayel said in an interview with Kuwait's Al-Siyassah newspaper Thursday.
"Lebanon has become a colony under Syria's military presence and it is time the country regained its right to make decisions freely," said Gemayel, who returned to Beirut in the summer after years of exile in France.
"The Syrian military presence is unjustified. It has infiltrated every inch of Lebanon and has been interfering in the private lives of the Lebanese," he said, adding it was in "Syria's interest to find a solution to its presence in Lebanon".
Gemayel's strong criticism follows a concerted anti-Syrian campaign by Maronite patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, who has been quoted as saying that Lebanon was threatened with disappearance due to the Syrian military presence.
Syrian forces entered Lebanon in 1976 during the civil war, which broke out a year earlier. The Syrian expeditionary corps is today estimated at 35,000-strong and is deployed everywhere in Lebanon except the south.
Gemayel said Lebanon could "become a time bomb that could explode any time, threatening Syrian interests. The situation is unbearable and the Syrian presence has become a challenge to the Lebanese people".
"The Lebanese people will not accept being followers of Syria and being humiliated by them. Accords with Syria are illegal and do not reflect the desire of the Lebanese," he charged -- KUWAIT CITY (AFP)
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