Lebanon News

Assir sets 4 conditions to end Sidon sit-in

Sheikh Ahmad Assir chats with his men at the campsite on Sidon's eastern highway, Tuesday, July 31, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, south Lebanon: Sheikh Ahmad Assir laid down four conditions Tuesday to end his road blockage of part of the south Lebanon highway.

“There are signs of a breakthrough. Palestinian and Lebanese [officials] are exerting efforts toward ending this sit-in,” Assir told The Daily Star from his campsite on Sidon’s eastern highway, which he established one month ago to protest Hezbollah's refusal to discuss disarming.

Assir, however, set four conditions he said the Lebanese government would have to meet in order for him to end his protest.

The firebrand Sunni sheikh said his conditions include a pledge from President Michel Sleiman to include the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons as a main topic on the agenda of the next National Dialogue session, which is scheduled for Aug. 16.

The other demands include a pledge from authorities not to pursue him or his supporters and to release a man named Mohammad Baba.

Lebanese authorities arrested Baba during the first days of the protest, which has paralyzed business in the Lebanon’s southern port city.

Sources in Sidon told The Daily Star Monday that ongoing efforts to end the sit-in have made progress and might lead to positive results in the next 48 hours.

But Assir sounded less positive.

“Nothing is final yet. We have set out demands and we will dismantle the encampment if the government respects my [conditions],” Assir said during his remarks to The Daily Star Tuesday.

Assir’s supporters began the sit-in on Sidon’s eastern highway on June 28 to protest Hezbollah’s arms. Assir, a harsh critic of Hezbollah, has repeatedly called on the party to surrender its weapons to the Lebanese Army.





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