BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman said over the weekend he would push toward enforcing the “Baabda Declaration,” which aims at keeping Lebanon at a distance from the Syrian war, and resume National Dialogue on the question of Hezbollah’s arms.
"I will exert all efforts to achieve the needed national goals ... of convincing various parties in Lebanon that the national interest and their own rests in preserving Lebanon's stability via their commitment, in words and action, to the ‘Baabda Declaration,’” Sleiman said during a speech at the Université Saint-Joseph graduation ceremony.
“[the declaration aims at] distancing our nation from regional and international disputes and axes ... and from growing negative repercussions of the Syrian crisis,” he added.
He noted that the pact, agreed by rival groups during a 2012 National Dialogue session, had won clear international support, “while more effort is still needed to achieve a true regional consensus on the issue.”
His effort, Sleiman said, is part of a series of steps that is needed “in these uncertain times” in order to unify the Lebanese around certain principles that would help ensure a sustained period of stability as well as political and social growth.
“[I will also work on] intensifying the process of consultations to form a new government that will preserve stability and resolve both the economic and social conditions as well as address the increasing number of Syrian refugees,” the president said.
The process of forming a new Cabinet has been stalled for over three months due to conditions and counter conditions put forward by the country’s major political coalitions.
“None of us has the right to disrupt this [formation] by placing demands because the people and the Constitution are the sole sources of authority,” he added.
Sleiman also said he would exert efforts to re-launch the stalled National Dialogue sessions in order to discuss the contentious issue of Hezbollah’s arsenal.
“[My effort will also focus on] bringing together again members of the National Dialogue committee to discuss in a responsible and serious manner the best means to serve Lebanon’s interests and manage its affairs,” he said.
He also noted that he proposed a national defense strategy which would resolve the issue of Hezbollah’s arms and strengthen the role of the state.
Aside from resuming national dialogue, enforcing the Baabda Declaration and forming a new Cabinet, Sleiman said steps were also needed to clarify ambiguities surrounding the Constitution “to improve the performance of the state,” along with a draft law he put forward on administrative decentralization.
Addressing the crowd of new graduates at the university, Sleiman advised them not to be dragged into extremist ideologies or subservience.
“Don't allow the radical, reckless groups to drag you again toward violence and wars whether inside the country or outside or the path of migration and subservience,” he said.