BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman said Wednesday he would do his utmost to ensure the presidential polls were held on time, adding that he planned to hold a huge handing over ceremony to celebrate the event.
Addressing a delegation from Jad Association, which visited him at Baabda Palace, Sleiman said he would do his best to guarantee elections were held on time this spring.
He added that members of the International Support Group for Lebanon along with his counterparts in Arab and Western countries would be invited to the handing over ceremony he was planning to hold at Baabda Palace, according to sources.
Sleiman said the event would affirm Lebanon’s adherence to the principle of rotating power, which differentiates it from other countries in the region.
He also said it was not possible to have a stable Lebanon unless all Lebanese groups quit Syria.
Hezbollah announced last spring that it joined Syria’s war alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces. A number of Sunni Lebanese, sympathetic with the Syrian opposition, are also participating in the civil war in Lebanon’s neighbor.
Sleiman said that for the resistance to be effective and accepted by people, it should be under the state’s authority, adding that this authority was emphasized in the policy statement of Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government.
Commenting on recent verbal attacks against him, Sleiman said they aimed at drawing red lines for the president, which he said he would not cross. “I assure everybody in Lebanon that I have laid down a solid base in enabling the upcoming president to cement Lebanese interests and state authority,” he added.
Earlier this month, he and Hezbollah engaged in a war of words over the “Army, people and resistance” formula which Hezbollah insisted on mentioning in previous Cabinets’ policy statements. The clause effectively legitimizes Hezbollah’s arsenal.
Sleiman described the formula as wooden, prompting Hezbollah to respond by saying that the president needed “specialized care” because he could “no longer differentiate between gold and wood.”
Sleiman expected that he would come under more criticism in the future. “They don’t want a strong president. Despite this, I assure them that my stances will not change, but will become more deep-rooted.”