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The Daily Star
SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
03:53 AM Beirut time
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Politicians wish Santa would bring peace and stability to nation
A Christmas tree is set in front of the Baabda Presidential Palace, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
A Christmas tree is set in front of the Baabda Presidential Palace, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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BEIRUT: Lebanese MPs prefer to celebrate Christmas Eve at home with family and close friends and wish the occasion would bring peace to the country after a year of instability.

“This is a family occasion par excellence,” said MP Alain Aoun, from Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc. Aoun said he usually spent Christmas Eve at home with his wife, son and family.

A lawmaker from Baabda, Aoun said the best Christmas present he could get from Santa Claus would be stability in Lebanon and the end of the political crisis that has paralyzed the government for months.

Lebanon has been without a government since March, and the country has witnessed a series of explosions and armed clashes this year, most of which have been linked to the ongoing war next door in Syria. Observers also fear that the Parliament could fail to elect a new president in the spring of 2014.

“On a personal level, all that I ask for is the good health of my family, nothing more,” Aoun said.

Echoing Aoun, Zahrani MP Michel Musa voiced hope that Christmas would bring peace to the country.

“First, I hope that people will feel secure because they are so worried,” said Musa, a member of Speaker Nabih Berri’s Development and Liberation parliamentary bloc.

“Second, I wish for a better economic situation for the Lebanese,” he added.

The lawmaker said that he usually celebrated Christmas Eve with his family at his home in the village of Magdousheh in south Lebanon. “Once it is midnight, we head to the church for prayers,” Musa said.

For Zahle MP Elie Marouni, Christmas is an occasion for love. “Christmas is the moment when we forget hatred and when my family and I gather around the Christmas tree and have dinner,” Marouni said.

“I still stick to Christmas traditions and give presents. Although this is a symbolic gesture, it indicates the depth of our relations and our connection to the historical moment when Jesus was born,” he said.

Marouni said he wished Christmas would bring a new government and a new president to Lebanon.

“These should not be mere wishes but should become a reality. We are in need of a new government and a president,” said Marouni, from the Kataeb party parliamentary bloc.

The deteriorating security situation is one of the reasons that MP Marwan Fares doesn’t stray far from his house in the Bekaa Valley village of Al-Qaa during Christmas.

“I refrain from going out of my house these days due to the security situation,” he said.

Fares, from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, said that he hoped for peace as a Christmas gift, because Jesus was a messenger of peace.

“We are in need of peace and this will happen with the formation of a government and the exploitation of our maritime oil resources before Israel steals them,” said Fares, a lawyer for Baalbek-Hermel.

Beirut MP Michel Pharaon, from the Future parliamentary bloc of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, celebrates Christmas with his family at his mother’s house.

For him, Christmas and the New Year are an opportunity to start anew and put the problems and concerns faced in 2013 behind. “People have the right to forget about difficulties they are facing,” he said.

“It is an opportunity to enjoy spirituality, faith and peace, which we need to confront the upcoming challenges of 2014,” Pharaoun said.

Politics was clearly an integral part of Lebanese Forces MP Fadi Karam’s Christmas wishes.

He said Christmas should be an occasion for some Lebanese groups to reconsider their policies and links to foreign sides, in an indirect reference to Hezbollah.

“I hope that groups with projects linked to regional powers make preserving Lebanon’s interests and peace their only goal,” Karam said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 24, 2013, on page 4.
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