BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman made an urgent appeal to political leaders Saturday night, asking them to safeguard the nation by forming a new government, return to the National Dialogue table and disassociate the country from regional conflicts.
Sleiman’s message came two days after twin blasts rocked the northern city of Tripoli, killing at least 45 people and wounding over 500, which came days after a car bomb ripped through one of Beirut’s southern suburbs, leaving 30 people dead.
The attacks are some of the worst violence Lebanon has seen in years and raised the fear they would spark a dangerous cycle of sectarian strife.
“With the presence of these dangers that threaten the country and shed blood indiscriminately, I call on everyone, without exception, to take a brave stance and a responsible national decision, distant from foreign and regional interests ... to meet immediately within a unifying government and around the National Dialogue table unconditionally,” Sleiman said.
Amid the political deadlock in the country and rising tensions linked to the crisis in neighboring Syrian, Lebanon’s security situation has gradually deteriorated as a result of car bombings, rocket attacks and the spate of abductions. The National Dialogue committee has failed to convene several times in the past year due to political disputes, while Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam has faced major hurdles for over four months in his attempt to form a new government.
Sleiman said his call for politicians comes from his position of constitutional responsibility.
“I ask politicians, people of influence and power, leaders and religious figures to calm their followers, [adopt] moderation in their political rhetoric and work once again to ensure a full return to the Baabda Declaration which is in Lebanon's highest interests,” he said.
The declaration is an agreement signed by the country’s top political leaders to distance Lebanon from regional turmoil particularly the crisis in Syria given the sharp divisions among the Lebanese between supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad.
Many critics of Hezbollah say the resistance group violated the agreement when it sent members to Syria to fight alongside regime forces.
Hezbollah has maintained that its involvement in Syria is limited and its presence in the neighboring state is a preemptive move against the threat of radical Islamic groups in Lebanon.
Sleiman called on the military to increase its readiness to combat criminal and terrorist acts, and he asked Lebanese to put their trust in the security agencies and maintain calm. The president also asked local media outlets to take part in shouldering what he described as the national responsibility.
“This is our responsibility that we should commit to ... to prevent the country from falling prey to the international game because it deserves to survive and live,” he said.