BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea Tuesday praised the National Charter unveiled by The Maronite Church last week, saying it flew in the face of Hezbollah’s practices and ideology, and urged Lebanese political figures to fully implement the document.
In a televised news conference from his residence in Maarab, Geagea highlighted what he said were the charter’s core ideas for producing a capable and productive Lebanese state.
“The Maronite bishops viewed that faith in the Lebanese entity is correlated with the belief in the establishment of a capable, productive state ... meaning there is no place for a resistance,” Geagea said.
"We are now facing two state projects: Bkirki's project and the project of Hezbollah’s mini state," the LF chief, a key figure in the March 14 alliance, said.
Geagea also said recent comments by Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem tying the existence of Lebanon to the resistance group was the party’s indirect response to the National Charter.
“The National Pact, the Constitution as well as the highest national interest that Bkirki stressed have no room for illegitimate arms, the resistance or Hezbollah’s state,” Geagea, a staunch Hezbollah critic, said.
He also said that the fundamental principles of freedom and parity of participation by sects in political decision making mentioned in the National Charter were being sabotaged.
“We cannot talk about freedom after 17 assassinations and attempted assassinations against one specific group, the March 14 [coalition],” he said.
“What kind of government are we discussing when we see events such as May 7? Someone is striking a blow to this freedom,” Geagea added, referring to street clashes between pro-government and Hezbollah supporters in Beirut in 2008.
He also said Hezbollah had violated the principle of equal participation stipulated in the Constitution when it unilaterally decided to send fighters to Syria.
“That decision was not made through state or constitutional institutions and it was not a group decision by the March 8 group,” he said.
Geagea also accused Hezbollah and its allies in the March 8 coalition of paralyzing the state on several occasions, including in 2006 when the party’s ministers withdrew from the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. He said actions such as this also flew in the face of the Bkirki charter.
He also noted the Charter’s mention of the need to adopt the policy of neutrality as a means to “protect the Lebanese makeup” as well as the Baabda Declaration as a mechanism to protect Lebanon.
“I want to mention here that our current stance [against joining a government] is the absence of an agreement on the Baabda Declaration ... we wanted the declaration to be the only political paragraph in the upcoming government’s ministerial statement,” he said.
The declaration is a 2012 deal by rival political groups to distance Lebanon from regional turmoil, particularly the crisis in Syria.
“But Hezbollah sent military units to Syria and we all know the repercussions [of that decision] on Lebanon,” he added.
Geagea along with his allies in the March 14 group blame Hezbollah for the recent string of car bombings in Lebanon that have been claimed by radical groups fighting in Syria.
“[Hezbollah’s presence in Syria] is a blatant strike to neutrality,” Geagea said.
He also criticized MP Michel Aoun’s support for the National Charter.
“I saw one of my colleagues going to Bkirki and saying he supported the document. But how is it that he supports the document and the resistance’s arms at the same time?” Geagea said.
"Whoever supports the document should support every single point mentioned in it," he added.
Geagea also said his party agreed with Bkirki’s calls to fully implement the Taef Accord and amend the president’s role to expand the prerogatives of the country’s top post.
“We also agree with the idea of decentralized administration which Bkirki spoke about especially at a time when the central government has been paralyzed for 10 months,” he said.
Saluting Maronite Cardinal Beshara Rai for drafting such a document, Geagea called on “all political parties in Lebanon, regardless of their political affiliations ... to adopt this charter as a roadmap for national work.”