BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman defended Tuesday Lebanon’s policy of disassociation, a day after his Syrian counterpart said Lebanon had failed to distance itself from the crisis in its neighbor.
Sleiman, who spoke at Beirut Port, also called for respecting constitutional deadlines in Lebanon, namely regarding the presidential election next year.
“Lebanon’s self-disassociation policy from conflicts, which was embodied in the Baabda Declaration, is something we are proud of ... and no one can criticize the self-disassociation policy,” Sleiman said at the Port, where he inaugurated renovation works.
In an interview to the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen television station aired Monday, President Bashar Assad criticized Lebanon’s self-disassociation policy and said “armed terrorists” from Lebanon were infiltrating the borders into Syria.
“ Lebanon contributed directly in igniting the flames inside Syria by allowing terrorists to cross in through the Lebanese-Syrian borders so practically there was no self-disassociation,” Assad told the Lebanese television station.
The Lebanese government has a self-avowed policy of distancing itself from developments in the region, particularly in Syria, as part of efforts to safeguard against the negative consequences of the conflict between the Syrian opposition and forces loyal to Assad.
Beirut has repeatedly stressed its commitment to the disassociation policy.
In the interview, Assad also addressed the case of former Minister Michel Samaha, who was charged earlier this of plotting terror explosions in Lebanon in coordination with Syrian officials.
“I am also still waiting for evidence against Syria in the case,” said Assad, in response to a question on whether he would contact Sleiman to seek clarification on the case.
When Samaha’s case was brought to light last year, Sleiman said that Assad should contact him and clarify the accusations against Syria in the case.
Sleiman also called Tuesday for respecting constitutional deadlines in the country, referring to the next presidential election due in 2014.
“The sustainable development Lebanon committed itself to goes along with the preamble to the Constitution, and we must be faithful to our Constitution and respect the constitutional deadlines, mainly the deadlines for the presidential election,” he said.
Sleiman’s six-year-term in office expires in May of next year.
The president also called for “the formation of a new Cabinet and reviving Parliament,” both of which have been in a state of paralysis for months.